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Archive for September 20, 2017

Sept. 20, 2017 — Thoughts on a retirement

I didn’t want to go too far along in the fall field hockey season without recognizing an excellent coach for whom this is her first year out of the game since the fall of 1972.

Judy Lee retired over the offseason, leaving an indelible mark as field hockey coach at Martinsville Pingry School (N.J.). She had previously coached at Roselle Park (N.J.), but it was at Pingry where she truly made a name for herself and her team.

Pingry is a college preparatory school which has, in the last few years, led a parallel existence between the state’s public and private schools. It joined with a public-school league for most of its athletic pursuits, sometimes participating in the state tournament in the private school ranks.

In field hockey, Lee was part of a trend which made the NJSIAA rewrite an entire section of its manual. Between 2000 and 2004, Pingry won four of five Group I titles. A decade later, fellow private schools Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) and Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (N.J.) were also winning state titles.

By 2013, the NJSIAA had instituted a Non-Public state championship bracket for the various private and parochial schools whose field hockey teams were starting to rival the public schools for top honors year over year.

Lee finished with more than 500 career victories in field hockey.

But the thing is, it wasn’t her most impactful sport. Lee was the swim coach not only for Pingry (both boys’and girls’ teams), but also lent her summers to the recreational program in Westfield, N.J. for four decades.

Westfield, a community about 15 miles northeast of Martinsville, is a place where swimming runs deep in the community and in the soul of those who practice and compete, even the U-8s who dogpaddle a crooked line towards a wall that never seems to come quick enough.

Thousands of swimmers were under Lee’s influence over the years, and went on to varying degrees of success as state champions in their own right.

Lee’s effects on her students and athletes is undeniable. She will be missed.