Principles from Washington College Sports Underpin Alumna’s Approach to Work
Liz Tessier Berquist '00, Field Hockey, Lacrosse
The daughter of a coach and a school principal, Liz Tessier Berquist’s path has come full circle. Like her parents, she has been a teacher and a coach. Her daughters are high school athletes at her alma mater outside Baltimore. With a PhD in Instructional Technology, she is now director of employee training and development for Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th largest school system in the country.
It’s a path forged with the mindset of an accomplished athlete and a lot of influence from her coach and mentor at Washington College, Sarah Feyerherm.
“Meeting Sarah and talking with her was a selling point,” says Berquist ’00 of choosing the College. “I liked the opportunity to play for a woman coach. Her presence set Washington apart.”
Athletics is a big part of campus life at Washington, and “each team has its own personality,” Berquist says. On the field hockey team that helped Berquist settle into campus more smoothly as a first-year student, that personality was set by Feyerherm, who coached with principles that guide Berquist years later: transparency, responsibility and mutual accountability. Those values set the tone for the field hockey program and allowed space for hard conversations.
“You can go from being the best on your high school team to college where people are better or work harder than you,” Berquist said, adding that it’s a truth that can be a gift, even if it’s not always comfortable to hear. “To me, clear feedback is a kindness. I believe it professionally and track that truth back to sports.”
Feyerherm’s leadership served the program well: The 1996 field hockey team made it to the national tournament and was honored at the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame celebration in 2018. Today, Feyerherm’s lessons are part of Berquist’s professional philosophy. In her work leading educator training, Berquist tries to help teams of co-workers improve in their jobs using approaches she learned from Feyerherm.
“I see how Sarah set team expectations. That’s my focus, getting people on the same page. It’s a sports mindset. We’re reaching goals together,” Berquist said. Working with teammates from diverse backgrounds who came together at the College also resonates in Berquist’s professional work. “By showing up fully and letting people be their authentic selves, you get the best from everyone.”
The field hockey team’s bond endures today. With Feyerherm now Washington’s dean of students and vice president of student affairs, opportunities to gather happen frequently.
“If Sarah says come to something, we all still go,” says Berquist. “We were more than a team. We represented each other all over campus, not just on the field. As a coach, I’ve taught the same thing. The way you act in the dark is the way we see you in the light.”
shown: washington college field hockey alumnae with coach sarah feyerherm