The Ohio Field Hockey team has tabbed former Bobcat standout and member of the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame Ali Johnstone as their 11th head coach in program history, Director of Athletics Jim Schaus announced on Nov. 16, 2017.
"This is a dream hire," Schaus said "An Ohio alumnus. All-American. Ohio Hall of Famer. Outstanding coaching experience. Even better person. Welcome home, Ali!"
Johnstone joins the Bobcats after serving six years on the staff at Northwestern, with the last four serving as the associate head coach.
"I am extremely thrilled to be back in Athens," Johnstone said. "Ohio University has meant so much to me—both as a player, and as an assistant—to return as head coach is an honor. I am extremely thankful to Northwestern University, Dr. Jim Phillips, and Tracey Fuchs for seven fantastic seasons in Evanston. I am forever grateful to Amy Dean and Jim Schaus for this opportunity. I'm eager to begin work with some of the best student-athletes in the country. "
Northwestern players have earned a total of eight All-America honors and NU has earned a pair of Big Ten titles during Johnstone's time in Evanston.
In 2017, the Wildcats went 15-7, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. While there, NU defeated eighth-ranked Louisville in the first round before falling to No. 3 Michigan in the quarterfinals. The season saw the 'Cats knock off eight top-25 ranked opponents and were ranked as high as eighth in the nation throughout the course of the season. The season also produced three NU players named All-Big Ten.
In 2016, the Wildcats rattled off an eight-game winning streak including back-to-back wins over No. 4 Penn State and No. 6 Maryland. Three individuals were named All-Big Ten while four were named All-NFHCA West Region.
The 2014 campaign saw the 'Cats win their first Big Ten tournament title in school history as they defeated No. 15 Iowa, No. 12 Michigan and No. 2 Maryland en route to earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
In 2013, the Wildcats posted a 15-5 record and earned a share of their first Big Ten regular season title since 1994. During the season, Northwestern ranked fourth nationally with a 1.13 goals-against average. Tara Puffenberger and Nikki Parsley were both named NFHCA All-America selections.
During the 2012 season, Johnstone helped the Wildcats post their winningest season in 23 years as the squad notched a 16-4 record -- defeating seven ranked opponents along the way -- and reached as high as No. 8 in the NFHCA national rankings. NU's senior class finished their careers with 51 wins, the most by a senior class since 1991.
Johnstone helped Chelsea Armstrong earn her second straight first-team All-America selection while Puffenberger was named to the All-America third team. Armstrong became just the ninth player in NCAA history to reach the 100 career goal milestone.
"I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to work with Ali," Northwestern head coach Tracey Fuchs said. "Ohio University is not only getting a fantastic field hockey coach, but also one of the best and most loyal people a university can ask for. I can't thank her enough for all she has done for Northwestern and I will miss her friendship and all she has done for our program over the last six years. She has been such a wonderful mentor to our young women and I know she is going to do great things at Ohio."
In 2009, during Johnstone's first season on staff at Ohio, the Bobcats won their third MAC championship in a span of four years and finished with a 12-9 overall record. Ohio followed that up in 2010 by going 7-3 in MAC play and reaching the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Johnstone is a two-time NFHCA All-American and the first Bobcat to earn first-team All-MAC each of her four seasons in Athens, she graduated from Ohio in 2002 as one of the most decorated players in program history. Johnstone was a three-time first-team All-West Region honoree as well as the 2001 Ohio Female Student-Athlete of the Year. She has the career record for assists (36) and ranks third in all-time points (106) and fourth in career goals (35).
Before beginning her collegiate coaching career at Ohio, Johnstone was the head coach for the U-19 British Columbia Provincial A team in 2007 and the U-16 Regional High Performance team from 2006-08. Johnstone is also very involved with USA field hockey as a head Futures coach, a regional and national Futures tournament selector and a Junior High Performance Program volunteer coach.
"I was thrilled when I learned that Ohio University has hired Ali as their head field hockey coach," said Liz Tchou, Senior Manager Coach Education of USA Field Hockey. "Ali has been involved in our Coach Education & Learning Program at USA Field Hockey for quite some time. She's coached Junior High-performance athletes improve their skills and tactics within our Olympic pipeline. Over the past year, Ali committed and developed herself as a highly proficient Head Level 1 Coach Educator. Her passion for the players, the game and desire to continue to improve herself as a coach is why she is so highly respected by her peers. Ali will not only make a positive impact on the student-athletes at Ohio, but also the Athens community. Ohio has hired a great coach and even better person to take over its field hockey program."
Johnstone gained extensive experience at the international playing level. A native of Delta, British Columbia, Johnstone played nine years and earned 35 caps for the Canadian national team. In 2005-06, Johnstone played professionally for Hamburg in the German Premier Division.
Johnstone earned her bachelor's degree in sports sciences from Ohio in 2002.