The Worthington Kilbourne High School field hockey team will enter the 2009 season in a new direction following the hiring of Michele Hazzard as coach. The hiring is expected to become official at the Aug. 27 school board meeting.

The Worthington Kilbourne High School field hockey team will enter the 2009 season in a new direction following the hiring of Michele Hazzard as coach. The hiring is expected to become official at the Aug. 27 school board meeting.

Hazzard served as coach at Grandview from 1992-93 and spent the last 12 years as an assistant at Watterson, where one of her primary duties was coaching the junior varsity. The Eagles won a state championship in 2005 and were state runners-up in 2001 and 1999.

A 1990 Dayton graduate and 1986 Watterson graduate, Hazzard is a teacher at St. Brendan in Hilliard.

"She has experience at the high school level working with a very successful program in Watterson," athletics director Bill Weary said. "She's a teacher who has worked with high school-aged kids, teaching the game and skills necessary to win, and she's highly organized. She had definitive ideas on building relationships with the kids and parents that were very positive and she presents a winning attitude."

Hazzard takes over for Christina Brown, who resigned after six seasons.

"It just wasn't practical for Christina to teach in New Albany and then come to Kilbourne," Weary said. "It was just too inconvenient."

Weary offered the position to Hazzard on July 14 and she accepted the following day.

"I am a very competitive coach and I hope to bring competition to the team and improve their abilities in central Ohio and the state," Hazzard said. "The junior varsity at Watterson was a very competitive program in central Ohio and the state. As the junior varsity coach the last five years, we only lost three games and I think, in my opinion, that is a very strong accomplishment."

Kilbourne finished 6-10-2 last season.

"I'm used to a high level of competition and I'm not sure what to expect, so that's a challenge," Hazzard said. "I will ease the girls into the level of competitiveness I bring."

Kilbourne lost eight players from last season to graduation, most of whom were starters. Among the players expected to return are seniors Molly Burton (4 goals), Danielle Hart (131 saves), Taylor Luke (4 assists), Katherine O'Harra (10 goals, 3 assists) and Briana Savage (2 goals, 1 assist) and juniors Jami Brunner (1 assist), Angel Burwell and Kelsey Furbee (2 goals).

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges Hazzard faces is trying to get Kilbourne to emerge from the shadow of Thomas Worthington, which advanced to a state semifinal last season and won a state title in 2007.

"I don't necessarily feel that pressure to be compared to them," Hazzard said of the Cardinals. "I have not felt that pressure yet. But Thomas is one of the top programs in central Ohio, so it would be a goal to be competitive with them.

As for the coming season, Hazzard's main goal is an obvious one.

"I'd like to have a winning season this year," she said. "Kilbourne was close last year, so we'll just go from there."