By Brian Foisy
Tara Watchorn is not a new face to Walter Brown Arena, but today she made her first public appearance in the legendary rink under a new title.
In a “welcome back” reception, BU Athletics formally introduced Terrier Nation to the second coach for Boston University women’s ice hockey in team history.
With the fight song accompanying her as she walked to the ice at Walter Brown, Watchorn spoke to a crowd of family, BU Athletics staff, coaches of other teams and her players.
“This school, this team, this program mean so much to me. To be able to come full circle, it’s pretty special,” Watchorn said in her comments during the ceremony.
Watchorn, who played under Brian Durocher for the Terriers from 2008-12 and served as an assistant coach for four years at BU, was announced as the head coach on April 3.
“I think this group can do great things. I believe that with attention to detail in all areas as players, as student athletes, and most importantly as people, the wins will come,” Watchorn said.
The Terriers’ new coach is familiar with many of the athletes in BU’s locker room, given she was an assistant until 2021 –– before taking the head coaching job at Stonehill College –– and recruited many of the women on her current team.
Athletic Director Drew Marachello described the moment when players were told of Watchorn’s hiring.
“I can tell you that there was a thunderous ovation when she was introduced to the team,” Marachello said.
Junior assistant captains Madison Cardaci and Lacey Martin discussed that moment in an interview after the ceremony.
“Right as she walked in the door everyone smiled, I looked around the room and everyone was just cheering for her and clapping,” Cardaci said. “I think the clapping went on for about three minutes.”
Watchorn said the warm reaction in the locker room, “completely caught me off guard.”
“It’s an overwhelming day, but as I started the walk down the stairs and started the process that ‘I’m back’ and ‘I’m home’ and then the reaction when I walked in –– truly humbling,” Watchorn said.
Marachello described how the search for a new coach eventually landed with Watchorn as the choice.
“When [Durocher’s] retirement was announced, there was immediate interest from a variety of candidates,” Marachello said.
Amid that “deep pool,” as Marachello described it, of candidates, Wathcorn stood out because of her experience as a head coach and her vision for the team.
“In the beginning, she had a clear plan, pathway…everything we asked, she had a real informed approach with her answers,” Marachello said.
Marachello alluded to Watchorn’s vision for the team as a significant factor in their choice to hire her for the job. Watchorn described her vision as “having high standards for everyone on and off the ice.”
“I think focusing on off-the-ice first, high standards for who you are as people…how we impact each other. I think if you start there you build a culture that wants to go to war together, that wants to battle together,” Watchorn said.
BU Athletics made clear that Watchorn was brought on to win a national title for BU women’s hockey, “I won’t shy away from saying that we have national aspirations for this program,” Marachello said.
In thanking Coach Brian Durocher for “putting BU women’s hockey on the map,” Watchorn said she would finish what he started and “bring a national championship back to Comm Ave.”
Martin and Cardaci described how they believe those new expectations for the program will impact the team.
“I think a lot of us really needed that belief in us. I feel like the past couple of years that we’ve had, maybe we’ve lost that,” Martin said. “Having someone come in and tell us that they think this group can make it to the national championship because we all know it, but we want someone to push us there.”
Cardaci agreed and said that the reason she committed to BU was to compete at the highest levels of college hockey, “you commit because you want to be on that stage and you want to be a national champion.”
While the 2023-2024 season is still months away, the new era of BU women’s ice hockey has already begun. With new expectations and goals set, Watchorn and her team will prepare to bring the squad to its most competitive level in the following years.
The Boston Hockey Blog will have continued coverage of all off-season news so be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.