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Archive for November 11, 2006

Nov. 11, 2006 — The tangled webs

Spent the last two days at the Virginia Class AAA Tournament, and once you got to know some of the participants, a very interesting tapestry of playing and coaching connections started to develop.

Got to see the concept of the “coaching tree” up close. Both Julie Swain, head coach of Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.), and Autumn Arrowwood, coach of Stafford (Va.), played for Nancy Fowlkes, who won 394 games in her illustrious career. Fowlkes’ teams made all 11 championship games (winning 10) between 1989 and 1999.

Pattie Sullivan, the head coach at Stafford Mountain View (Va.), was an assistant to 2005 United States Coach of the Year Robin Woodie at Stafford. Sullivan, a Stafford graduate, brought her team to within a goal of making a state final in the second year of the school’s existence. Quite a feat.

And then there were the Cox alumnae. One mom, Claye Rhea, played on the 1981 and 1982 state championships alongside Swain.

“We’ve been best friends forever,” Swain says, “and now her daugher (Taylor, a freshman midfielder) plays for me. That’s pretty amazing.”

Claye Rhea wore a yellow vintage 1981 long-sleeve state championship T-shirt to the games. In the style of the time, there was a single line of print along the sleeves as well as on the front.

A member of the Northern Virginia field hockey cogniscenti, former Centreville (Va.) head coach Starr Karl, noticed Rhea’s attire and sidled up to her for a conversation. Karl was on the 1981 Fairfax (Va.) team that lost to Cox in the final. The former enemies chatted for a while and shared a laugh or two.

In a world where younger people do not fully understand the significance of their foremothers and fathers and forsake them in the name of celebrity worship, the scene at Oakton was refreshing.