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Archive for November 19, 2020

Nov. 19, 2020 — An appreciation: Claudia McCarthy, head coach, Millville (N.J.)

One in an occasional series.

Tuesday afternoon, Claudia McCarthy coached her 969th and final varsity field hockey match in a 50-year coaching career, a 3-2 loss to Linwood Mainland Regional (N.J.).

“The 50 years of coaching went by so fast, and I have a lot of memories,” McCarthy tells The Atlantic City Press. “One of my best memories was the 1980 team, my best team up to that time. They were 19-1 and lost in double-overtime for the South Jersey title. I’m going to retire and watch my grandkids play. Four of them are coming up, and I’ll sit back with a warm blanket and watch their games.”

McCarthy has also coached the school’s girls’ basketball and girls’ lacrosse teams for decades-long stretches for the school located at the headwaters of the Maurice River, a meandering rivulet that eventually empties into the Delaware Bay.

In a manner of speaking, that river speaks to McCarthy’s career. Her Thunderbolts were strong, purposeful, sometimes got sidetracked, but eventually got to their destination.

That destination wasn’t necessarily the championship success you might expect for someone with this kind of longevity or someone who has won more than 600 matches.

Millville has never won a state championship, and it has won only a handful of regular-season titles. But it showed itself the equal of some state powerhouses a year ago. With her granddaughter in the side and the daughters of some her former players alongside, the Thunderbolts tied for the league title with Ocean City (N.J.), then beat Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.) in the state tournament.

But in this “year like no other” in scholastic field hockey, Millville was a winner just by showing up and competing. The Bolts lost their first match of the season to Newfield Our Lady Of Mercy Academy (N.J.), but avenged the loss in the penultimate game of the regular season.

That’s a key trait of winning teams and individuals: learning and growing from experiences. And that’s something McCarthy facilitated for a half-century as a coach and mentor of young women.