First-year McLean girls' soccer coach Malcolm Wilson found himself short on information because of a weather-shortened tryout season. But Meghan Hurlbut, a two-time All-Met, has provided some answers.
First, Hurlbut answered Wilson's question -- and solved a problem -- concerning the team's alignment by moving from the defensive back line to center midfield. Then she answered his questions about the Highlanders' opponents in the competitive Liberty District.
"It makes it a lot easier; she knows the players, I ask her advice. I mean I'm the coach and she's the player, but I do ask her advice," said Wilson, who has known Hurlbut for about a month. "Meghan is going to know most of the best players and she knows the best players on the other teams where I only know them by reputation."
Hurlbut finished last season with four goals and seven assists from the defense, and her reputation and ability to start counter-attacks prompted the position change. Playing the midfield gives her control at each end of the pitch.
"It's always going to be hard, even though I've been a leader on this team in the past, you never know with different coaches who come in with a different style," said Hurlbut, who will play soccer at Columbia University next fall. "It's difficult where I'm not as comfortable. It's been a little bit hard of a transition for me."
The change in position did not come as a complete surprise. Her former coach moved her from sweeper to center midfield during her sophomore season, and she responded with five goals and six assists -- earning her a spot on the 2001 All-Met team as a midfielder.
"That's a big change for her, but obviously in high school we can't really have one of our best players playing way in the back," Wilson said. "She has to play in a more central role. She's done that well, and it's helping us.
"[Her teammates] obviously look to her to make things happen and she certainly does. I think when other kids are playing against other high-level players they're not as used to it."
While Hurlbut continues to adjust to the new position, she and Wilson continue to work together to find the right combination of players on the field for the Highlanders.
"There is a lot of dialogue. He looks to me a lot for what's going to work and who's going to work well together. Obviously he has final say in everything, but I feel like it is open communication," Hurlbut said. "If I feel someone else may be playing better at another position, I feel comfortable going to him with my opinion knowing that he respects my opinion, but doesn't have to agree with it."
The soccer team is not the only team Hurlbut has helped at McLean.
Despite injuring ligaments in her back in October, she earned all-Liberty District girls' basketball honors this winter for her point guard play.
Hurlbut joined Wilson in frustration as the winter weather extended the basketball season and cut into the spring preseason.
"It was a little rough during basketball season and [my back] is starting to act up again as you play more and more games," Hurlbut said. "I really haven't had any rest. It's difficult going from one sport to the next."