October 20, 2012

Memorable Night as Yale Field Hockey Celebrates its 40th

1980, 2011 Ivy League Championship Teams Saluted

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Generations of Yale field hockey players gathered Saturday night in the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium for a unique celebration, as the Bulldogs recognized the 40th anniversary of field hockey at Yale. As the first female varsity sport at Yale, the team drew upon its rich history for a night filled with memorable stories -- and a celebration of champions, as members of the 1980 and 2011 Ivy League championship teams were recognized.

The day's festivities began with Yale's game against Penn and continued with an alumnae game. Before the dinner, members of the current team had the chance to meet with alums dating back to the founding of the team as a club sport, hearing the stories as part of the "Chronicles of Yale field hockey".

Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett began the dinner program by recognizing the impact of Title IX, as the Yale field hockey team earned varsity status the same year that Title IX was enacted into law (1972). Beckett also saluted three Yale field hockey alums at the dinner who had achieved honors recognizing their impact beyond the field following their playing days: Lawrie Mifflin '73, who received the NCAA's Silver Anniversary Award in 1998, and Anne Keating '77 and Carole Roberts '81, who received Yale Athletics' George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award (in 2007 and 2009, respectively). Beckett then delivered the good news that he had confirmed earlier in the week that Johnson Field will be resurfaced for the 2013 season.

As a slide show of 40 years of photographs displayed in a corner, the crowd enjoyed dinner before master of ceremonies Lorraine Pratte Lewis '78 (President of the Yale Field Hockey Association) introduced Senior Associate Athletics Director Barbara Chesler, who spoke of what it was like as player and a coach in field hockey's early years as a collegiate sport. Chesler also called up all the members of the 1980 championship team, who will receive pendants commemorating their accomplishment.

The Bulldogs and their supporters then got the chance to hear from the legendary "pygmies" of the early 1980s: Claire Cardie '82, Jan Colarusso Seeley '82 and Maggi Smeal '82. This trio, so dubbed because of their size, has remained close through the decades and delivered a powerful message to the crowd.

"We wouldn't be here without the blood, sweat and tears of those that came before us," said Seeley. She also recognized the Bulldogs' current senior class, which earlier this year became the first class in school history to go 4-0 vs. archrival Harvard.

Lewis reminded the crowd that at the 35th anniversary, the attendees had been surveyed as to what the goal of the Yale field hockey program should be. With a helpful reminder from senior goalkeeper Ona McConnell, Lewis pointed out that the goal chosen five years ago -- win an Ivy League championship -- had been fulfilled in 2011.

Head coach Pam Stuper then addressed the crowd, recalling that one of the first duties she was assigned when she joined the program as an assistant coach 16 years ago was to work with the Yale Field Hockey Association. She recalled helping to build the organization by starting with Anne Lehman Dillman '93 as president, and recognized Dillman with gifts that included a 2011 Ivy League Champions sweatshirt. Stuper recalled moments from her early years with the program, including back-to-back ECAC Championships in 2002 and 2003.

The night's most emotional moment came when Stuper acknowledged the parents of Caroline Thompson '02, who recently established an endowment for the program in memory of their daughter.

The captain of the 2011 Ivy League champions, Erin Carter '12, then spoke about what it was like to be a part of the 7-0 win over Brown in the season finale last year that clinched the Ancient Eight title for the Bulldogs. She recalled hearing the large crowd at Johnson Field chanting "Ivy Champions".

"That was a really sweet sound," Carter said.

Stuper and her associate head coach, Tamara Durante, then called up the members of the current team, along with the 1980 and 2011 Ivy League champions, for a special photo.

Lewis acknowledged Stuper's work with a gift, and thanked those who had sponsored the weekend's festivities. Heather Orrico '07, chair of the fundraising committee, then outlined the program's fundraising goals for the future: $40,000 per year for the next five years.

Lewis concluded the evening, thanking the more than 100 Yale field hockey supporters and players in attendance.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

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