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Jan. 6, 2010 — The 2000s: 10 who defined the decade

First in a series.

The last decade saw a number of changes in the game of field hockey, and they all revolve around people. Whether administrators, coaches, or players, these 10 people had a lot to do with the game of field hockey:

10. Katie O’Donnell. This attacking midfielder/forward is the current holder of the Honda Award for collegiate field hockey. But even before matriculating to the University of Maryland, she had international experience, as she was named to the senior women’s national team as a high-schooler. This has led to a number of young players such as Katelyn Falgowski and Katie Reinprecht to become part of the senior pool.

9. Lucas Long. The nation’s leading goal-scorer in 2008, Long is one of many male field hockey players who have become interspersed amongst the country’s scholastic field hockey teams. Players such as Lamar Long, JaJa Kentwell, Blaise Falk, Gabriel Grab, Evan Munsing, Brad Catherman, Josh and Jarrod Davis are not just curiosities anymore: they are contributors to team success and are being recruited into the high-performance development apparatus for the U.S. men’s national team.

8. Kate Barber and the rest of the 2008 Olympic Team. The group, which got tremendous performances from the likes of  Rachel Dawson,Caroline Nichols, Angie Loy, Tiffany Snow, and Lauren Crandall, were perhaps a drag-flick or three away from playing for a medal at Beijing, but finished in eighth place.

7. Chantae Miller. This midfielder from Williamsville (N.Y.) North and Michigan State University holds a singular place in American field hockey: the only player in the recorded history of scholastic field hockey to score 100 goals and to get 100 assists. She was one of a number of truly gifted scorers this decade such as Kelly Fitzpatrick, Kelsey Mitchell, Amie Survilla, and Lauren Gonsalves.

6. Jen Averill. The former U.S. international coached Wake Forest to three consecutive NCAA championships from 2002 to 2004 and started an eight-year run of success for the Atlantic Coast Conference in winning national championships. Averill, like her ACC rivals Missy Meharg and Karen Shelton, has inspired nearby high schools to take up the sport; a couple of years ago, Winston-Salem R.J. Reynolds (N.C.) won its first state field hockey championship since 1926.

5. Elliott Hopkins. The National Federation of State High School Associations’ director of educational services has a great deal of power and influence over the body that makes the annual rules for the scholastic game.

4. Susan Butz-Stavin. She may be the second coach to reach 700 victories, but her Emmaus teams were amongst the best in the country in the middle of the decade. Thanks in large part to Erin, Rachel, and Tara Jennings, Abby, Amanda, and Ashleigh Huck, Sarah Jones, Katie and Bridget DeSandis, Tina Bortz, and Jess Werley, the Hornets won four state championships in the decade, which is the most in the decade for Pennsylvania. Not surprisingly, Emmaus won five championships in the 1990s, which also led the state.

3. Pat Rudy. In 2003, Rudy took Lock Haven University out of NCAA Division II and into Division I as part of the Northeast Conference. The result was like the slow leak of an automobile tire. Longwood and Bryant left Division II altogether, Philadelphia University and Catawba dropped the sport, and Slippery Rock found itself the target of a lawsuit when plans were made to end the program there.

2. Danyle Heilig. The field hockey coach at Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) had an OK decade. All her team did was win 255 games, and set the national record of 153 consecutive games without a loss. The Vikings won all 10 NJSIAA Group IV championships, 11 straight when you include the 1999 title. She has also coached more than a dozen NFHCA All-Americans. More importantly, however, she has been willing to challenge her players to reach far, far beyond their level of comfort by playing the best competition available. She has led a phalanx of coaches such as Liz Lewis, Julie Swain, Susan Butz-Stavin, Karen Klassner, Wendy Martin, Shawn Hindy, and Jean Lipski who are not afraid of interstate matchups.

1. Terry Walsh. USA Field Hockey’s Technical Director has brought a new life and energy to the national team program and its developmental apparatus. More importantly, he has set high goals for the programs in both genders. That confidence was rewarded when both men’s and women’s national teams took silver in Pan American Cup play last year, narrowly missing out on automatic World Cup qualification.

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