After spending five years around the Ball State field hockey team as a player, Gretchen Lulow returned in 2012 as an assistant coach.

Lulow played for the Cardinals in 2007 and then from 2009-2011 after being medically redshirted in 2008. She started 32 games during her career. She was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference team member and Academic All-MAC team member.

For the first time ever, Lulow was on the roster as a coach, and it was a transition that went smoothly for her.

“It’s going really well,” she said. “I think the transition has been pretty good since I was able to be around the team in the spring. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Senior Devon Bell, who played with Lulow for three seasons, said she believes Lulow is making an impression as an assistant coach for Ball State. She sees Lulow as a personal mentor throughout the season.

“Having Gretchen as a coach has really helped me personally,” Bell said. “Even when she was my teammate, she really always had time to break skills down for me. I’ve always looked up to her as my teammate so having her as a coach is awesome because she knows exactly what to say to make me play better or fix what I’m doing wrong.”

Despite a losing record this season, coach Beth Maddox said she has been very satisfied with the progress the first-year coach made.

“[Lulow’s] been tremendous,” Maddox said. “She understands what it feels like to play. It’s been a little while since I was out there so it’s nice to have someone to kind of remind me what they’re going through. ... She’s been wonderful, and I expect much more out of her for a long time.”

Maddox went on to say Lulow offers a different skills than she does. Because of that, Lulow can relate to the players in different ways than Maddox.

“Her playing ability has surprised me sometimes,” Maddox said. “I forget how good she was.”

But having to watch from the sidelines hasn’t been easy for Lulow. She said not being able to play in the matches this season has been the hardest part of the transition.

“I was the type of player where, if I wanted to help, it was by doing, not by saying,” she said. “That’s been the hardest thing — not being able to help on the field.”

Lulow said it was nice to not have homework as a student, but the paperwork that goes with being an assistant coach makes up for it.

“It’s a lot more stressful than I thought it would be,” Lulow said. “It’s a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it.”