HANOVER, N.H. - It's still a little more than five months until the season starts, but the 2012 Dartmouth field hockey team is really beginning to take shape. Sure 17 players from last fall will be back for another go-around this upcoming season, but a hole has been filled near the top of the program that is sure to play a role in the coming months.

Pattie Gillern's addition to the coaching staff as an assistant fills the vacancy left by Andy Smith's departure this winter. Gillern comes to Hanover after spending last season as an assistant coach at West Chester, helping guide the Rams to a 2011 Division II National Championship.

A former top assistant at Rutgers, Gillern returns to the DI ranks with the Big Green in 2012. She recently took time to sit down with DartmouthSports.com to discuss her new position.

DartmouthSports.com: What are your first impressions of Dartmouth and the community?
Pattie Gillern:
"Just knowing how prestigious this place is as a College is one of the main reasons that attracted me to even apply for the job. The campus itself is definitely what you would want as a student, in my perspective. It has a great atmosphere and New Hampshire is beautiful and I'm really looking forward to seeing what it's like year round.

"I think the opportunity to work with a coach like Amy (Fowler) is something that I am most excited about."

DS: What is it going to be like working on this coaching staff?
PG
: "We will be able to provide a lot of balance because we are at three different points in our lives. However, I think we are all close enough in terms of age that we can still connect and relate to not only one another, but also to the student-athletes we coach. On the interview I was told about the program's value system and I think that is something that I will have no trouble buying into. Putting the kids and their experience first is a major part of that.

"I've known Amy on a personal level, but I am looking forward to seeing her at work every day and getting to coach alongside her. I didn't know Kristine (Stigas) before coming here, but it's evident that she is mature beyond her years and, from what I hear, she brings a lot of experience to the sidelines."

DS: How have your previous positions helped you develop into the the coach you are now?
PG:
"Rutgers was an interesting experience coming from being a student-athlete at an elite program (Iowa) with a lot of traditions and going to a program that was looking to build something similar. It was a good buffer for the first two or three years before being bumped up to first assistant.

"At West Chester, I was able to be creative and expand on some ideas as a coach. Since it was just me and the head coach, I had a lot of responsibilities which made me feel like I was really impacting things there. Having a season at the DII level was great for me. We started at the bottom and worked our way up to the top and to experience that with those young women was very rewarding."

DG: What are your expectations in terms of helping Dartmouth continue to grow and develop moving forward?
PG:
"I've heard a lot already about last season and how close the team was. I think it's hard when the kids are so close to accomplishing their goals, but don't have the experience to deal with the pressure and adversity that comes along with it. That means next year they will have had a bit of that pressure to work from and it won't be a new feeling when we get back to that point. We hope that it will help us if we are lucky enough to be battling for a shot at that championship down the stretch."

DS: What are your initial perceptions of Ivy League field hockey?
PG:
"I've seen Princeton before, being from New Jersey, but I can't say in either my playing or coaching career that I've seen teams like Yale or Harvard, so it's hard to say. It seems that each team plays a different style which is interesting since there isn't one or two characteristics that can summarize the conference as a whole. Each team seems completely different which will be exciting for me to see where Dartmouth will fit into that mix."

DS: Talk about your past recruiting experiences and how that will fit in with your role here as the recruiting coordinator.
PG: "
It will be different, but I'm looking forward to that because it takes the monotony away from it. Here, I have to look at the student-athlete on a whole other level than I have before. You have to see if Dartmouth is even a possibility for them academically and then to look at if that matches up with athletic ability is something new all by itself. I also have to be aware that prospective student-athletes looking at Ivy League athletics have different ideas and perceptions that I am going to have to learn to understand and relate to to be better. I want to ask our current players what were the contributing factors in them coming to Dartmouth in order to help me understand what I need to do in that role here."

DS: What are you looking forward to most here at Dartmouth?
PG: "
Ultimately I wanted to come back to Division I, because the level of competition here is the highest. Secondly, I wanted to come work for a team that is competitive, and the fact that program hasn't won a title in a few years means that we are building something here. That is very attracting to a coach, to know that you are helping build up something towards a level of sustained greatness.

"Also, I am really looking forward to working with this staff and these players. I know that Amy is someone I can respect right from the get-go and that will help open a lot of doors for us."