Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Eagle field hockey title so much more than a game

Winning a state championship is a thrill of a lifetime. Repeating that feat is incredibly rare, but winning four in a row is nearly unheard of! While credit can go to the athleticism of some uniquely talented, fast, gritty girls for the Mount Abe field hockey team’s recently won fourth state title, the credit really goes to a program that is uniquely designed to build powerful women who believe in themselves.

Molly Laurent and Txuxa Konczal have started every game for four years, playing every 7v7 overtime and every shootout. For the last three years they played without ever getting a sub. This year nine of the 11 girls on the winning varsity team never came off the field during regular season or playoffs, never got a sub, never got a break. Not one of them would ever complain. Instead they would all tell you, it makes them fit for playoffs. While three periods of this year’s championship were really tight back-and-forth field hockey, the fourth quarter was all Eagles. Why? Because everyone else gets tired, Eagle hockey players don’t get tired, don’t lose steam, don’t back down. They run as fast in overtime as they do in the first few minutes of the game. Their coaches make sure of it!

Freshman year, Molly and Txuxa supported a cast of incredible seniors who taught them the game, but most importantly taught them the grit of Eagle hockey. After the freshman state championship, Molly and Txuxa  promised their coaches at the banquet that they were going to get four, which at the time seemed more like a dream than an attainable possibility. They decided then that they were going to be part of Eagle hockey history. Their championships have all been different. One year they were clearly the superior team. Last year they were clearly the weaker team who would not give up and fought through two overtimes to win in a shootout. This year, they were just going to win, plain and simple, and they did so with true class.

How does this kind of athletic success happen? A community at Mount Abe that is dedicated to a program. I will never forget my shock when, at the first game freshman year, the assistant principal, Justin  Bouvier, announced the starters and sang the anthem. When he sang, every other team (soccer and football) stopped wherever they were in their drill or practice and faced the flag proudly. While the anthem plays our opponents all stand in a line waiting for the game to start. Eagle hockey players line up, hook arms with their coaches, and have a routine of tapping each other’s feet and swaying as one unit before they start their game. Justin has announced every home game since and proudly sang the anthem at their final championship. Dedication! When the championship game comes, fire trucks and police cars escort the buses out of town to head to UVM to play their game with the community lined up to send them off. Those same fire trucks meet them back to bring them home. We live in a community dedicated to our girls!

But really why do they win? Head coach Mary Stetson. Plain and simple. She has taken a community that has long been dedicated to Eagle hockey, and along with her a squad of powerful assistant coaches has created legendary teams. She is focused on making our girls great people. Eagle hockey is the only girls’ program at Mount Abe that is coached exclusively by women. It is coached by athletes who are all moms, and all fully dedicated to Eagle hockey. They coach field hockey, but they really coach the girls to be confident, powerful women who work to their full potential every day.

This magical group of seniors, Molly, Txuxa, Carly, Abby, Natalie and Maddie will now move on to other great things, but no one can ever take away their epic experience, their four-peat! Most importantly no one can ever take away the confidence, power and grit that they gained from being part of Eagle hockey and the community that supports it.

Julianna Doherty

Middlebury

Editor’s note: The writer, who recently moved to Middlebury, is the mother of Eagle field hockey player Txuxa Konczal.

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