Coach wins players' hearts, earns five-year extension
Intense. Passionate. Dedicated.
These three words have been used by the Miami University field hockey team to describe head coach Inako Puzo.
Puzo recently signed a contract extension for five more seasons at Miami University.
"This team needs consistency and I think that with Ianko signing his five-year contract, it helps the team mentally to know that he is not going anywhere," sophomore Camerin Colby said.
Puzo began his coaching career more than 16 years ago, when he arrived in the U.S. from Barcelona, Spain.
"I was playing the game and started coaching kids in college and coaching in schools," Puzo said. "I started coaching kids 14 and under and 16 and under until I got invited to start coaching 21 and under. After that I just kept moving up."
Colby said Puzo is one of the greatest coaches she has ever had.
"To be honest, Inako does not even compare to any of my past coaches," Puzo said. "He pushes the team in ways we have never been pushed and teaches us to break out of our comfort zone in order to achieve our goals. He is the best coach I have ever had, and I know many of my teammates could say the same."
First-year Jenna Kapsar was out of her comfort zone when she came to Miami and had a male coach for the first time in her life.
"In high school I had a female coach, coming to Miami with a male coach was a lot different," Kapsar said. "He is a lot more intense than my coach in high school, he makes you work harder."
Colby said Puzo is demanding, but all of his actions have a purpose.
"Seeing someone so dedicated to the sport and passing down his ideas and opinions through us makes every player better on and off the field," Colby said.
Puzo said he strives for excellence both on and off the field.
"Our commitment is to keep helping them to be successful in the classroom and on the field," Puzo said.
Prior to his coaching at Miami, Puzo was an assistant at the Ohio State University and the University of Virginia. Puzo said he received the call that Miami was interested in hiring him while he was at Virginia.
"I was the head coach at UVA, when I got the call to coach at Miami three years ago," Puzo said. "They were very interested in talking to me about becoming the head coach. I knew this place because I was at Ohio State for seven seasons and we would play Miami all the time. I got very excited because I knew this was a great place to build a program and a family."
Puzo has led Miami to Mid-American Conference titles in each of the past two seasons and has high expectations moving forward.
"In the next five years I hope we can move forward at least one or two rounds in the MAC," Puzo said.
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