It is said that, for winning programs in any sport at any level, the next season begins the day after the previous season ends.
But for Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.), which dropped a one-goal decision to Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) in the 2015 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA semifinals, the 2016 season really began three days afterward.
That’s when the PIAA, the governing body of high-school sports in the most prominent commonwealth for scholastic field hockey in the United States, released its realigned groupings for 2016. The PIAA had decided to expand field hockey from two classes to three, meaning that there were going to be three state tournaments and realignment of the 281 schools that play the sport under the PIAA umbrella.
While Donegal was to remain in Class AA, the division remained the same in name only. The roster of teams in Class AA, with between 281 and 486 students, represented many of the greatest championship-winning programs in the history of the sport, including the likes of Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.), defending champion Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.), and Flourtown Mount St. Joseph Academy (Pa.).
Speaking to The LNP a few weeks later, Donegal head coach Jessica Rose Shellenberger uttered the following: “‘Bring it on’ is what I say.”
The words, and their resulting deeds, make Shellenberger the TopOfTheCircle.com United States Coach of the Year for 2016.