Return to Headlines

Danforth takes over for Snelling at helm of Centaurs

There will be one noticeable difference this fall on the sidelines for the Woodstock Academy girls soccer team.

There may be a little more noise emanating from the bench.

Andrea (Plucenik) Danforth was recently named head coach of the Centaurs, replacing Dennis Snelling who stepped down at the end of last season.

Snelling served as coach of the Woodstock Academy program for 12 years.

“I think I’m more vocal,” Danforth said with a laugh. “(Snelling) was quiet, a very quiet coach. I don’t yell at the girls but I’m constantly building them up and telling them what they have done right because that was important to me as a player. I constantly think about things that I wanted, that I needed from coaches and I want to build on that.”

Danforth served as a volunteer assistant coach last year and also coached at Woodstock Middle School prior.

She is returning to her alma mater as head coach.

“I’ve always said if the opportunity presented itself to coach (at Woodstock Academy), at a higher level, I would love to. I love to push myself in coaching and coach that level of athlete who wants more,” Danforth said.

Snelling thought the choice of Danforth to succeed him was a natural.

“She adds a new perspective and style as well as being an alumna with much soccer and life experience to share,” the former coach said. “Andrea has already impacted so many lives through her teaching and work with Special Olympics among other things and is an incredible asset to the community.”

Danforth graduated in 2011 from Woodstock Academy where she was an All-State and All-New England player as a sophomore and junior.

Unfortunately, the second of her six knee surgeries ended her Centaur career early as she could not play her senior year.

She went on to play Division I college soccer at UConn where she played for three years, having had to sit twice due to that nasty knee.

“Go figure,” Danforth said with a laugh.

Now, she finds the sidelines enjoyable.

“I want to be a coach who understands,” she said. “I’ve had lots of different coaches in my time and the ones who played at the level that I did, got it the most. They understood what I needed and what I was going through. I want to help other players get to that point. I also want to work with them on character development, who you are on the field as opposed to who you are off the field and understand that there is life after soccer.”

It's something she said she didn’t understand when she was in high school.

Until she had to when she was injured the first time.

She admits she desperately misses playing and wishes she was still 18 or 19 years old and able to run up and down the pitch.

“I’m not and that’s a reality I have had to face. This is the next best thing, being able to work with girls who want to be there, want to get better, want to move on. I want to do that for them,” Danforth said.

She also has the challenge of the soccer world as it is to deal with today.

There are other programs out there and, sometimes, athletes choose to play club rather than high school sports in the hope that it elevates chances to play at the next level.

“I think a big part of getting them to come to us is building a positive program and showing them that, there are other opportunities, but I have always been a big believer in playing for your school. There is pride in it. It was so important to me growing up to play for my school. I want to show them that there is opportunity here by just taking a look at my background and my experience, I feel like I can teach them more than they will get at club,” Danforth said.

The Centaurs finished 9-8-3 under Snelling this past season.

Danforth will have plenty to work with coming in.

Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I All-Stars Freya Robbie and Leah Costa return as seniors.

The top three scorers from this past season, Costa (14 goals, 2 assists), Juliet Allard (3, 4) and Isabella Selmecki (4,2) all return as well.

“I love it,” Danforth said of the returning roster. “I’m very excited. I’ve already chatted with some of the girls. They come and see me and tell me how excited they are for the season. I think it’s a great group returning and I know of a handful of girls coming in who are very talented. My hope is to just build a really positive team attitude from the beginning and I think that will take us far.”