TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Dec. 23, 2017 — Gillian Rattray, 1934-2017

Gillian Rattray, the last woman to be a Division I championship head coach in both field hockey and lacrosse the same calendar year, died last Thursday.

It was an era in which the NCAA could care less about women in sports, but Rattray was amongst the group of insurgents who would help organize the tournaments that would eventually become the NCAA Division I tournaments in lacrosse and field hockey.

In just 13 seasons with Penn State University, Rattray would coach the field hockey and lacrosse teams to 319 wins, with 68 defeats and 24 draws.

The won-loss record would translate into success at the national level. Rattray’s Penn State teams were at their apogee between 1978 and 1981, when the field hockey and lacrosse teams amassed five national championships — three US Women’s Lacrosse Association titles and two AIAW field hockey crowns.

It’s an era of two-sport dominance which hasn’t been seen since — not from Trenton State/College of New Jersey, not from Maryland, not from LIU-Post, not from North Carolina.

When you think about Rattray’s feat, you also have to cast your mind to the current Hall-of-Fame career of Sharon Pfluger of TCNJ. She’s practically the only crossover field hockey and lacrosse coach remaining, and she’s been able to keep her teams competing at a high level year upon year, even as the ultimate goal of winning national championships has become more difficult.

Think of this: since the fall of 1981, when Rattray’s field hockey team won its second AIAW national title, the Nittany Lions have only managed to win national titles in her old sports twice — both in women’s lacrosse, both in the late 1980s.

It’s not as though the Nittany Lions forgot how to compete once Rattray retired in the mid-1980s. It’s just that the small pool of competitors in both field hockey and lacrosse have grown tremendously in the intervening three decades.

And it should also tell you that Rattray was a heck of a coach.

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: