TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Feb. 24, 2016 — Mary O’Rourke, 1953-2016

It was during my time working for the dailies that I met Mary O’Rourke. She was equal parts field hockey parent, volunteer, and administrator.

As one of the leaders of the Spirit Eagles field hockey club after a split from the parent Spirit of USA organization, O’Rourke had her pulse on the field hockey world at large. We would have rambling off-the-record conversations on winter Saturdays about what made a good field hockey player, or what was going on in the recruiting world, or what to look for the following year.

O’Rourke changed the way I saw field hockey — years before the skilled game took over from the hit-and-run game that was prevalent in the early 1990s.

She showed me the value of players who carried the ball and didn’t treat it like a hot potato. She pointed me to role players who were not flashy, but were quick to the ball and never got dispossessed.

She also gave unvarnished commentary when we were on the sidelines. “How was that not a foul?” she would ask when there was a rash challenge — even when she didn’t have a favored team in the game.

We lost Mary O’Rourke yesterday to cancer. And by “we,” I don’t mean just the central New Jersey capitol region, but the national field hockey community at large. Her larger-than-life enthusiasm for everything she did, even when fighting cancer, will be missed.

Mary, I hope you have a chance to say hi to Jim Davis for me. I’m sure he’s already ready to bust a gut laughing at something we did two decades ago.

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