TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

July 6, 2022 — Another one of the greats to hang up her whistle

Until about 10 years ago, the top 10 to 20 coaches in terms of field hockey coaching victories had one thing in common: they were all active.

Then, starting in 2013, came the retirements of Nancy Williams, Elvetta Gemski, and Angela Tammaro. More recently, Matt Soto, Bob Derr, Karen Doxey, Claudia McCarthy, and Laurie Berger, all of whom are 600-win coaches, also decided to retire from coaching scholastic field hockey.

Joining them in retirement, starting at the end of the 2022 fall field hockey season, will be Karen Klassner of Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.).

Klassner has coached Wyoming Seminary for the last 49 years, adding to an illustrious history of the sport which can be traced all the way back to 1919. But since Wyoming Seminary joined the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in 1986, the Blue Knights’ program has set a standard for excellence which is rivaled by few other schools in America.

Here’s how good Wyoming Seminary has been in the last five years: the Knights have made the PIAA Class A state final the last five years, winning four consecutive titles. This is in a commonwealth in which no team had ever won three straight state titles before Sem did it in 2020.

Sure, you can chalk this up to the fact that the PIAA went from two classifications to three in 2016, but the road to a state title is still no less difficult: you have to get through your district tournament in order to get to the state tournament, which is loaded with other district champions and some pretty good second- or third-place winners. And in each classification, you have nearly 100 teams clamoring for the medals in the state final.

Klassner has put together some unforgettable teams over the years. There was the 2006 team which knocked off Selinsgrove (Pa.) in the semifinal thanks to three high-school all-Americans, including future senior national-teamers Kat Sharkey and Kelsey Kolojejchick. There was the 2010 team which had a male player, Cornelius Tietze, whose presence re-kindled the debate about the presence of males in scholastic field hockey.

And there was also the 2004 team which lost the “Did Sem Score?” game, where videotape viewed on the Pennsylvania Cable Network machinery in the press box appeared to show a Wyoming Seminary player touching a through pass which went into the Crestwood goal cage less than two minutes before the Comets ended the most gripping of 40 years’ worth of I-81 Derby matches with the overtime victory.

This fall, with the likes of Emma Watchilla and Ella Barbacci in the side, Wyoming Seminary is an odds-on favorite to win another state title and send Klassner off in grand style.

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