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Archive for September 3, 2022

Sept. 3, 2022 — A possible new contender in central Pennsylvania?

This morning, at a purpose-built turf facility in Hershey, Pa., a four-team field hockey tournament will be contested between the hosts, Hershey (Pa.), along with Springettsbury Central York (Pa.), Shippensburg (Pa.), and Manheim (Pa.) Township.

Though Hershey is a recent state championship winner, having taken the state title in 2018, the team to watch is Manheim Township. In the coaching box starting this fall is a name which is synonymous with success in the game of field hockey: Jessica Rose Shellenberger.

Shellenberger has been a champion at the NCAA level, with Michigan in 2001. She won two PIAA championships as a coach, with Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.). She was United States Coach of the Year from this site in 2016, and won the USA Field Hockey national Coach of the Year award in 2019.

Now, in further evidence of The Spooky Nook Effect, she’s taken the helm of a team located three miles east of the former home of the U.S. women’s national team. Manheim Township is a school which is steeped in tradition, but the Streaks stickwomen have only made one foray into the PIAA District 3 championship game.

That appearance was 50 years ago this fall, culminating in a 1-0 loss to Donegal.

But that was in an era of grass pitches, plaid wool kilts, painted cricket balls, and mulberry sticks. Today, carbon fiber forms the ultimate field hockey stick, and those sticks propel a slick plastic ball on artificial turf, with players kitted out in space-age wicking fabric.

And given what I have seen Shellenberger do with her past coaching at Donegal, I would expect to see Manheim Township in its first PIAA tournament one day.