Late last week, Susan Butz-Stavin, the Emmaus (Pa.) coaching legend who has won more field hockey games than any other scholastic coach, won the 2016 National High School Coaches’ Association (NHSCA) Coach of the Year.
It is actually the second time that she has won the award, having taken it in 2006. But this past year’s honor was a particularly satisfying one.
Butz-Stavin has always had a knack for coaching her teams through the slalom of the postseason. But that’s because the Hornets have won the last 28 PIAA District 11 championships.
Emmaus won the last two PIAA Class AAA state championships under the weight of enormous expectations as well as the disappointment of a 4-0 loss to Palmyra (Pa.) in November 2014 in the state semifinals.
Emmaus got its revenge against Palmyra not once, but twice in the next two state finals. After a thrill-a-minute overtime game in 2015, Emmaus and Palmyra met again this past November, and the Hornets improved by four goals.
What I think has typified the Emmaus program over the years is not just the preparation, not just the execution, but the absolute dedication to being the best around. It is a team culture that has brought entire families into the game, such as the Jennings triplets, the Werley sisters, and the Grim-Wootsick-Sholder clan.
And all of that comes from its coach.