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'Field hockey mind': UNC's new assistant coach challenges team to excel

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UNC assistant coach Tim Broenink joins stands out in a team huddle during the exhibition field hockey match against Duke at Karen Shelton Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. UNC won 5-3.

UNC's new assistant field hockey coach Tim Broenink is nothing short of committed.

After the Tar Heels’ 4-1 exhibition win over Wake Forest on Friday, the team packed up for the 80-minute drive back to Chapel Hill. While they boarded the bus, Broenink talked with the other coaches, doing pratice swings and brainstorming ways for the team to improve their shots and ball handling.

With a new head and assistant coach on the leadership staff, the players have had to adjust to a different style of practice and preparation. However, head coach Erin Matson said Broenink is transitioning into his new role perfectly.

“He has a very well-rounded resume,” Matson said. “He has the same mindset as me and the rest of the staff in terms of who needs what.”


UNC assistant coach Tim Broenink high fives teammates during the exhibition field hockey match against Duke at Karen Shelton Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. UNC won 5-3. After each goal, Broenink takes time to high five or fist bump every player and staff on the sideline.


A native of the Netherlands, Broenink began coaching teams there in 2009. 

Later, as head coach, he led the Norway Men's National Team to a bronze medal at the 2019 Euro Hockey Championship Men IV tournament. Broenink also coached the Norwegian club team, Kringsja, and led them to a gold medal at the 2019 Euro Hockey Club Championship IV. 

In addition to his international coaching experience, Broenink was an assistant field hockey coach for Syracuse for two years before joining North Carolina's program. Following former head coach Karen Shelton’s retirement, he filled the vacancy created by former associate head coach Grant Fulton's departure.

Coming to Chapel Hill, Broenink had to adjust to a new life and a new locker room environment.

There is one familiar face for the new assistant coach on the Tar Heels’ squad — graduate midfielder Pleun Lammers played under Broenink during his stint at Syracuse. Lammers also played for Broenink in the Netherlands with the Amsterdamsche Hockey & Bandy Club.  

“Getting to know the players in the first week of preseason is pretty easy, because we have double trainings and you see them a lot,” Broenink said. “I’m getting used to them; I know them all.”

Although Broenink is new to the team, the players said they appreciate his style of coaching, formed by years of experience in the United States and overseas.

Senior back Romea Riccardo said Broenink challenges players to view the sport through a new lens.

“He's been a great addition,” Riccardo said. “His field hockey mind is insane. He’s having us think in different ways that we haven’t thought of.”

Broenink's impact is already visible. He started the second and final exhibition game just the same as he finished the first one — talking to players and coaches about what needs to be improved and how it needs to be handled.

As a coach, he has high aspirations for himself and the team this season. While the team’s mantra is to only focus on one game at a time, Broenink said everyone knows what they’re after. 

“I think the team’s goal is very clear,” Broenink said. “We want to be national champions again. My role in that is to facilitate them the best way possible and try to help them achieve their goal.”

@j_kidd03

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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