Oberting named Coach of Year

by Kevin Allen | 4/18/00 5:00am

Judy Oberting, head coach of the Dartmouth women's ice hockey put the finishing touches on a stellar season by being awarded the American Women's College Hockey Alliance's Coach of the Year Award last week.

"I am honored," said Oberting. "[But] I look at it more as a team award."

Many "experts" around the league had figured Dartmouth to be a mediocre team in the 1999-2000 season. After a 16-9-5 1998-1999 campaign and a fifth place ECAC finish, the Big Green were picked to finish sixth.

What the "experts" didn't factor in was one woman, namely Dartmouth Head Coach Judy Parish Oberting.

Oberting, who graduated from Dartmouth in 1991 after playing four seasons for the Big Green, took over as head coach just two years ago for coaching legend George Crowe. As a player, Oberting had a stellar career and still holds the all-time records for assists in a season, assists in a career, defenseman goals scored in a season, and defenseman goals scored in a career.

Dartmouth was lucky to have a coach with such a successful past as a player, a past which quickly translated to success as a coach. Coach Oberting lead the Big Green to unprecedented success this year, guiding the club to a 21-12 overall record, setting a school record for wins in a season.

Dartmouth also reached the ECAC Championship game for the first time in six attempts. The season was capped off with a 5-4 victory over Minnesota Duluth in the AWCHA National Championship Consolation Game.

Coach Oberting originally joined the Dartmouth coaching staff as an assistant coach for George Crowe but found herself at the helm in after the 1997-1998 season.

"The program was extremely successful under George and my primary goal was not to screw it up," Oberting recalled. "George graciously retired at a time when the cupboards were full. The junior class had great leadership, the freshman class had seven very good hockey players in it and we had just recruited a very strong incoming class."

"The addition of [assistant coach] Mark Hudak and another great class gave us the pieces to make something happen and thankfully, we have continued to build upon the successful tradition that George began."

In her first year as head coach, Judy Oberting took some time to get adjusted.

"The players didn't know what to expect, I didn't know what to expect and we were all learning together," said Oberting. "By the end of the season, we were in a groove and it allowed us to do as well as we did."

"This year, there was a bit more order from the very beginning and everyone was ready to go. I knew from last year that we may not have a group of superstars, but that we did have a very smart group of players who will work their tails off. They wanted to be challenged and they wanted to succeed. It really is a great group and they make it happen."

This year, Oberting hoped to prove the polls wrong by "working hard, getting better every game, [and] improving more than the competition."

Dartmouth turned heads on November 7 when the Big Green toppled defending national champion Harvard 5-4 in overtime. Dartmouth would finish the season with a perfect 3-0 record against the Crimson. After that, many started to believe what Coach Oberting knew all along.

"I knew that we had the pieces, but what you don't know is whether everything will come together. Good players, a fun, competitive atmosphere, and a bit of luck has worked thus far."

Although she has developed a close relationship with the players and has proved that Dartmouth hockey is the real McCoy, Oberting will not rest on her laurels.

"I'd imagine that I will always be nervous at the beginning, middle, and end of every season. Not nervous because I don't think I am capable of doing my part or because I don't think we have a good team, but because there are so many unknowns. It is the best and worst part of this job."

As for next year, Oberting already knows that it will take a lot of hard work and discipline to be as successful next year.

"We have to take this same group, with the addition of three or four freshman, and get better. As good as all of them were this year; they need to get better next year. We have to work hard now and it will pay off later."

This year, the Big Green fell just one game short of playing for the national title. With every player on the 1999-2000 roster returning plus the addition of three or four freshman, Judy Oberting will once again be at the helm of a team that has the talent to win it all. Look for Dartmouth to be huge next season, for Judy Oberting and the Big Green have not yet begun to fight.