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Archive for November 14, 2018

Nov. 14, 2018 — Theodore Roosevelt, a field hockey prognosticator?

In the last three days, two of the longest state championship winning streaks of all time were snapped at nine. Sunday, it was Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) falling in the NYSPHSAA Class B final, and last evening, it was Watertown (Mass.) falling to Dennis-Yarmouth (Mass.) in the MIAA Division 2 semifinals.

Since this site began, we have documented six programs which have broken the old mark for consecutive state titles, which was Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) with seven titles between 1988 and 1995.

Field hockey is a sport in which goals are rare, where ball control is not as cut-and-dried as in football, basketball, or lacrosse, and where one bounce or umpire’s decision can change the outcome. As such, winning even one state championship is a tremendous achievement.

That’s what makes, I believe, coaches such as Danyle Heilig, Sharon Sarsen, Eileen Donahue, Amy Wood, Paula Doughty, the late Sue Pusey, and Nancy Fowlkes so incredibly special. They were able to sustain championship efforts for more than a half-decade each.

Heilig, of course, finished her 20th consecutive championship season at Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) last Saturday. That’s a mark which few other teams in any sport have ever reached, though the longest streak remains current: the girls’ swim team at Carmel (Ind.), which won its 32nd straight title last February.

You may wonder what the secret is to these coaches’ success is. I think a lot of it is that these coaches have mastered how to handle a team in the midst of a tournament run. Some coaches shorten practice. Others will plan out activities that will allow a team to get the optimum amounts of water and carbohydrates in the hours before the contest.

But it’s amazing what the young people on these teams will do when it comes to personal focus and determination.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt once said “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”

And for communities as large as San Diego (1.4 million) or as small as Newport, Pa. (1,585) winning in the postseason is the risk worth taking as this week comes to a close.

Best of luck, everyone.

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