NFHCA Annual Convention concludes with the NFHCA Awards Dinner sponsored by AstroTurf

LAKE MARY, Fla. — The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) gathered on Thursday evening to celebrate current and former coaches at the NFHCA Awards Dinner sponsored by AstroTurf. The highlights of the night were the NFHCA Hall of Fame induction of Catherine "Cathy" Neary McGuirk and Anne Parmenter and the presentation of the NFHCA's first Lifetime Achievement Award to Sharon E. Taylor.

Four of the night's award winners, Anne Parmenter, Sharon E. Taylor, Catherine Neary McGuirk and Chrissy Summers (left to right), pose for a photo.

The night began with a welcome from NFHCA president, Marybeth Freeman. "Our honorees are pioneers, trailblazers, pathfinders, advocates and competitors," Freeman said. "These individual award winners have helped shape our sport into what it is today, and their continued efforts strengthen the game through their actions and words. A common theme of these honorees tonight is their selfless nature, their passion to teach, and their willingness to give back to the game that has given them so much. They each value the importance of 'paying it forward' and their hockey reach extends much further than just the individuals they coached. They remind us to stay present, to be role models and enjoy the journey."

Inducted into the NFHCA Hall of Fame first, was Cathy McGuirk. The former head coach at Branford High School used her time at the podium to recognize and thank her players, colleagues, mentors and her long-time assistant coach and husband, John McGuirk. She treated attendees to a walk through her field hockey history and a glimpse into the philosophy that directed her coaching career.

Anne Parmenter, head coach at Trinity College, was inducted into the NFHCA Hall of Fame following McGuirk. Parmenter treated guests to an amusing retelling of her journey through coaching, using the time to cleverly thank the coaches, friends and family that helped her along the way — giving special focus to challenges that, in the long run, made her love of the game even deeper.

After a long two days of legislative meetings and intense discussions, NFHCA Annual Convention attendees were met with poignant words from Sharon E. Taylor, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Taylor used her remarks to honor her dear friend, Dr. Bernice "Bunny" Sandler, "the godmother of Title IX," who died on January 5. Taylor prompted everyone in attendance to lift their glasses in reverence to the pioneer. In her remarks, Taylor, herself a fierce advocate of women athletes and coaches, reminded those in attendance to "get out of your comfort zone," encouraging coaches to engage in their sport off the field and fight for what they believed in.

Taylor's Lifetime Achievement Award was the first issued by the NFHCA and is designed to "distinguish a seasoned coach that has made a significant impact on the sport of field hockey."

Following dinner, Chrissy Summers was recognized with the Junior Hockey Award for her work as the founder and director of Beyond Sticks and Play Beyond the Game, two field hockey programs designed for youth players in Washington D.C. and New York.

Specially honored Thursday night were NFHCA member coaches who reached victory milestones during the 2018 season — coaches who reached 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 wins were recognized in the 2018 Victory Club.

The Spiideo/NFHCA Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year joined Freeman and Spiideo representative, Nate Shiffman, on stage to be acknowledged. At the conclusion of the regional recognition, Freeman announced the Spiideo/NFHCA National Coaching Staffs of the Year. The Division I winners, Karen Shelton, Grant Fulton and Mark Atherton of the University of North Carolina accepted the award — UNC was crowned the 2018 NCAA Division I National Champion in November. The coaching staff from Shippensburg University was the Division II winner. Tara Zollinger and Jordan Page collected the award on stage — their season culminated in an NCAA Division II National Championship in December. The Division III winners, from Middlebury College, Katharine DeLorenzo, Rachel Palumbo and Lauren Schweppe, accepted the award — their season finished with an NCAA Division III National Championship trophy in hand.

Freeman ended the evening by thanking guests. "Thank you everyone for being here this evening to help celebrate such a terrific group of award-winning women, our milestone coaches and exceptional coaches of the year," Freeman concluded. "Each of our winners have made and continue to make a valuable impact on our sport and on behalf of the NFHCA and the executive board, thank you for joining us."