Sports

Karl Lindholm: Mabrey earns athletic immortality at Middlebury College

EDIE MACAUSLAND MABREY PLAYS AT the National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs for the East Team in 1978. She was selected and toured internationally for the U.S. National Team.

In the tenth grade, Edie MacAusland started ski racing at the Franconia Ski Club. At a race at the Snow Bowl, she stole a bib and hung it in her bedroom “as a source of inspiration. 

“It bore blue snowflakes on a white background,” Edie explained at her Middlebury College Athletics Hall of Fame induction last month. “It symbolized that Middlebury was my first choice of college.”

At Middlebury from 1972-76, Edie not only skied, but also played field hockey and lacrosse for four years, and in her senior year, foregoing skiing, she and her teammates and friends, “dressed in red sweaters, dungarees, and figure skates” and started a hockey team: “We only played three games, but it was the genesis of a new program.”

Edie clearly was an extraordinary athlete, versatility personified, but it was her remarkable skill and success in field hockey that earned her Hall of Fame honor. To celebrate a field hockey player from the program’s earliest days was apt indeed in light of this year’s team’s undefeated season (21-0) and National Championship, the sixth in a row.

Middlebury had a women’s ski team for a long time, and women’s tennis too, but in the mid-1970s, just after the passage of Title 9 and the formation of NESCAC — and before most of the women’s teams at Middlebury were established field hockey was already a competitive intercollegiate sport. 

The field hockey team Edie joined when she arrived in 1972 was highly organized and successful, undefeated the previous year. In Edie’s four years, the team won 29 games, lost just one and tied three. 

That defeat was a one-goal loss to UVM during her senior year. Edie held the field hockey scoring record at Middlebury for more than 20 years with 58 goals in the regular season, until Heidi Howard Allen (who is in the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2014) broke it in 1997 with 66. 

Edie was the captain, high scorer and Most Valuable Player in 1975-76 in both field hockey and lacrosse.

Carolyn Leggett Perine was a senior, a three-year starter in field hockey, in 1972. When called upon to describe Edie as a player, she laughed and said it was ironic that she should be asked. “Edie played the same position I did and she took my spot on the team as a freshman. 

“She was impressive from day one. She had amazing stick skills. She would fly down the field and score. I couldn’t be mad at her because she was so much fun! She was a breath of fresh air.”

EDIE MACAUSLAND MABREY, shown with her 1979 Harvard field hockey team, posted a winning record over six seasons, was nationally ranked and second in the Ivy League standings in 1982 and ’83.

Having fun is something of a theme when Edie’s name comes up. Another teammate, Susan Storer 75, when told Edie was being inducted into the Middlebury Hall of Fame, said, “It’s about time! Edie was a great athlete and was a pleasure to play with. She had no pretensions: she was just one of the team, even though she was better than the rest of us.”

Edie stayed at Middlebury for a year after graduating, working in admissions and coaching field hockey as an assistant. She continued to play both field hockey and lacrosse after graduation, field hockey nationally at a high level. 

At age 26, Edie was appointed the head field hockey coach at Harvard, coaching full-time for six years (assisting in tennis also). She compiled a winning record at Harvard. In 1982 and 83, her teams were 18-8-4 overall and finished second in the Ivy League with an 8-2-2 record. 

She was described in an article in the Harvard Crimson (“Edie MacAusland Takes Charge”) as “one of the top 30 field hockey players in the country. She should have a good shot at traveling to Moscow for the Olympics” (alas, those Games in 1980 were boycotted by the U.S. and 60 other countries in protest of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan). 

“I loved coaching at Harvard,” Edie said. “I lived in a frosh dorm, bought my first car. I’d get tickets to Harvard football games and scalp em so I’d have money to go out to dinner.” 

Kate Martin played four years for Edie at Harvard and is a member of their Athletic Hall of fame. “She made it so much fun,” Kate said. “We looked forward to going to practice. Our team was nationally ranked! She saw our potential and brought out the best in us.” 

“She was the epitome of a players’ coach. I knew I was being coached by a great player. When I became a coach, I tried to match her energy.”

 In 1984, expecting her second child, Edie retired, as the demands of family became her priority. However, she was lured back into coaching at Harvard in 1989, this time as a part-time assistant in lacrosse. Her 1990 team was unbeaten and won the national championship, defeating Maryland, 8-7, in Princeton, N.J.

When those demands lessened, Edie went back into coaching for 13 years (2006-2018) at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Mass. Janet Sullivan (the lacrosse coach and associate athletic director at Dana Hall) was exuberant in her praise of Edie: “She was the best, most talented coach I have ever worked with. We begged her not to retire and we ask her to come back every year. 

“She got everything out of those kids — and they loved her! She always went the extra mile. She was coach of the year in our league, took teams to New England Championships. She was outstanding in all areas as a coach.”

Edie was the fifth of six children in her family living just outside Boston, in Dedham. She described herself as “the  tag along, the peewee goalie, the fill-in for (her siblings’) sporting endeavors.”

Her brother Steve coached her in skiing, her sister Gusta gave her a “second-hand field hockey stick,” and her mother’s “unwavering support embodied what I aspired to as a future coach,” she said. Her coach at Milton Academy, Dolly Sullivan, “taught me a pass travels faster than carrying the ball.

Edie and Roy Mabrey, her husband of 41 years, have four adult children, all of whom played sports at the college level, and nine grandchildren, and still reside in the Boston area (Needham).

EDIE MACAUSLAND MABREY, Middlebury ’76, speaks at her induction into the Athletics Hall of Fame celebration November 4. Edie was on the field hockey, skiing, and lacrosse teams at Middlebury, played high-level field hockey nationally, and was the head coach of field hockey at Harvard from 1979-84.
Photo credit: Todd Balfour

In her speech at the Hall of Fame celebration, Edie remembered her “townie roommates,” Deb Parton, daughter of the college physician George Parton, and Robin Wonnacott, daughter of the Dean of Students Erica Wonnacott. “They provided a bridge to the local community. Erica’s mentorship has been a guiding light.” 

(Deb died in a tragic automobile accident in 1980. The Deb Parton Memorial Award is given to “a member of a women’s team who best exemplifies the spirit and dedication of Deborah Parton ’76.)

Edie also cited long-time Dean of Admissions (and ski coach) Fred Neuberger, who “supported our training on the slopes and suggested I go into coaching,” and Dottie Neuberger, who “refereed our field hockey and lacrosse games and was an ardent supporter” of those teams. 

She also thanked Gary Margolis for “playing a pivotal role as a counselor, mentor, and advisor,” when she was writing her poetry thesis in English. 

A personal note: Edie graduated from Middlebury in June of 1976: I came to back to Middlebury to work the next month, July of 1976. Edie was an exuberant young colleague working in admissions that year alongside my wife — and we found her infectious spirit irresistible. 

She was the social chair of the young Middlebury College professionals and alums that year, a group that met on occasion at Fire & Ice, the liveliest night spot in town then, 47 years ago! She was so much fun.

 

Contact Karl Lindholm at [email protected].

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