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Archive for June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021 — Gaining a program, but losing a leader

Yesterday, it was announced that Stanford University field hockey coach Tara Jelley Danielson was resigning, a scant two weeks after the school announced the reversal of its decision to eliminate field hockey and 10 other intercollegiate sports.

It’s a stunning turn of events, especially given all of the work that had been done to get the university president and board to reverse course. But the thing is, you have to realize that when Stanford had made its original decision to cut sports, it wasn’t only the players who were affected by the decision. Coaches and support staff for the 11 sports affected found themselves looking for an exit strategy.

In a prepared Stanford University release, she said that she and her family were moving back to New England. Danielson was a legend in western Massachusetts field hockey, playing with distinction for Greenfield (Mass.), the University of Massachusetts, and, for 89 matches, the U.S. national team.

In the summer of 2010, I trumpeted her hire at The Farm. She did good things for the Cardinal program over the years, taking a team which had been winless in nine previous NCAA Tournament appearances and got them three wins in the tournament.

Indeed, she got the Cardinal to within 70 minutes of the Final Four in 2014. But the opponent was the University of Connecticut, a team which would beat Stanford 3-1 that afternoon and would win the national title a week later.

On balance, the field hockey community in California was left better than when Tara Danielson found it, thanks to coaching, administration, role-modeling, and even umpiring. She will be missed in the Golden State.