Boyer in charge, aims to give back

Some of the best memories of Amanda Boyer's high school days come from being part of a team affectionately known as, "Chix with Stix."

Boyer, formerly Amanda Wittman, was the goalie for some of Newport Harbor High's best field hockey teams.

Now she's looking to make some new memories as the team's varsity head coach.

Boyer is in her first year, after taking over for Devon Kelly, who stepped down after nine years as head coach.

High school field hockey proved to be a special time for Boyer. In addition to the cute name for the team, the Sailors were in the Los Angeles Field Hockey Assn. Tournament of Champions title game each of her four years, winning it once in 2003, her senior year.

"It was one of my favorite high school experiences," Boyer said. "That's where all my best high school memories are. It was kind of natural to want to give back."

The Newport Harbor field hockey team has displayed a strong bond throughout the past decade. A family-type atmosphere can be seen at each game.

She wanted to stay connected with the program. She played in alumni games and when summer practices came around, she stopped by to help out.

In 2007, she became the junior varsity coach, while finishing up at Chapman University, where she studied film.

She somehow juggled the tasks of being a head coach, a college student and an intern for the TV Guide Channel, working for Joan Rivers on the red carpet for award shows.

Three years later, she's a media and communications director for St. Andrew's Church. That's located across the street from Newport Harbor.

She said she doesn't really think about becoming a teacher. Coaching is enough for her. She has a strong passion for the program, which has won two straight TOC titles.

Kelly felt confident about Boyer, which made her departure easier.

"I stepped down because I was nine years there and I think it was time for new energy," Kelly said. "She was ready to take over the program. It's difficult to find someone with a lot of passion and knowledge of the sport and Amanda has all of that … She's a perfect fit."

Boyer isn't the only former player who's part of the program. Sasha Grumman (Class of 2006) coaches the junior varsity team, and Kyle McNichols (1998) is the freshman team coach.

Boyer still doesn't mind playing these days. She'll sometimes compete against her players during practices.

Field hockey requires a high level of tenacity, especially being a goalie. She doesn't want any of her players to hold back this year. It could be a special season.

"We're looking for a three-peat," Boyer said of the goal for winning a third straight TOC crown. "My senior year, we won league, TOC and the OC Invitational. We haven't done that since. That's my goal to do that too.

"I feel a little pressure, but I think we're going to have a real strong team. We have the potential to do very well."

One of the reasons for the high expectations comes from the return of Sydney King, who has been a big part of the past two championships.

King is the Sailors' starting goalie, so naturally she has a strong connection with Boyer. Many of the varsity girls also understand Boyer quite well, since she coached them on junior varsity. That was the case for King, who was coached by Boyer as a freshman on the junior varsity.

"I love Amanda," King said. "She's an amazing coach. She's a wonderful person. Some people you either know how to coach or you don't, and she does. She's awesome. I think we're going to have a really good season."

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