Nancy Cox to receive the NFHCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award

GILBERT, Ariz. — The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) is honored to announce that Pinnacle Field Hockey owner and director, Nancy Cox, will receive the NFHCA's Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

Nancy Cox demonstrates a pass in front of a group of young field hockey players on the University of Michigan field hockey pitch with a blazing sunset and a scoreboard in the background.
Cox demonstrates a pass in front of a group of young field hockey players.

Cox has spent her life giving back to the sport of field hockey at nearly every level. Her coaching resume to date includes 17 years as the head coach at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, five years as the assistant coach at the University of Michigan, four years as the head coach at the University of Michigan, two years as the head coach at Ann Arbor Huron High School, and 10 years as the owner and director of Pinnacle Field Hockey, a club serving southeastern Michigan and northwestern Ohio.

She balanced a prolific coaching career while also umpiring at the high school and NCAA Division I levels, coaching a multitude of United States Field Hockey Association programs, and working as an occupational therapist with the University of Michigan hospital system.

Before her coaching career began, Cox spent four years playing field hockey at Western Michigan University under the tutelage of Jean Friedel. "I was coached by one of the finest coaches and mentors an athlete could have," remarked Cox. "Jean Friedel was instrumental in promoting athletics for women in the state of Michigan and at WMU — without Jean I wouldn't be the educator or coach that I've become."

Nancy in a blue Michigan shirt and hat, claps on the sideline.
Cox encourages her players on the Michigan sideline.

Following her college graduation, Cox became the head coach at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in 1981 and remained there until 1998 — while there, she amassed a 228-22-34 record. Success at Pioneer was not an easy feat — when she first arrived, Cox had only 20 athletes in her program, but thanks to her encouraging personality and her talent for teaching, Pioneer's numbers boomed to over 100 players. This surge alone is a testament to Cox's magnetism which pulls so many others into her field hockey orbit. During Cox's tenure the program recorded three undefeated seasons and captured 11 Michigan State Championship trophies.

In 1999, Cox accepted a job as the assistant field hockey coach at the University of Michigan. In the five years with Cox on staff, the Wolverines captured four Big Ten regular-season championships, three Big Ten tournament titles, and in 2001, an NCAA National Championship title — the first by a women's team in the history of athletics at Michigan.

In 2005, Cox was elevated to lead the program as its head coach, a title she held for four seasons. Cox led the Wolverines to a Big Ten tournament title in 2005, a Big Ten regular-season championship in 2007, and was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2007.

After retiring from the University of Michigan in 2008, Cox returned to the high school sidelines, where she coached for two seasons at Ann Arbor Huron High School. While there, Cox led her teams to two Michigan State Championships and two league titles.

In 2009, Cox filled a need in Michigan and nearby Ohio by founding Pinnacle Field Hockey. The club, which she still runs today, has over 200 affiliate members and has sent droves of players to collegiate rosters. Through Pinnacle, Cox has passed on a passion for the sport to countless athletes.

"For nearly 40 years, Nancy Cox has been thriving as a teacher of the game. She has been involved in the sport from every angle, as a coach, official, player, and for the last decade as a club director," remarked NFHCA First Vice-President and chair of the NFHCA Awards and Hall of Fame Committee, Julie Ryan. "Nancy is known by many as a true student of the game whose passion is to teach and give back. It is leaders like Nancy who have helped our sport evolve and who have created a positive philanthropic field hockey culture."

Nancy kneels on the sideline during a game in a white polo and black pants.
Cox observes play during a University of Michigan field hockey game.

"Coaching and developing young people through a sport called field hockey has been one of my greatest privileges in life," said Cox. "Being recognized with this award is a reflection of the athletes, parents, and colleagues with whom I have had the privilege of working in the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan, and through the United States Field Hockey Association and the NFHCA. A sincere thank you to the women who I am fortunate to have coached alongside: Jane Nixon, Darcy Knoll, Claudia Cabrera-Keen, Marcia Pankratz, Tracey Fuchs, Peggy Storrar, Ashley Reichenbach, Carla Tagliente, and Tia Sutton."

The NFHCA Lifetime Achievement Award — established in 2019 — was designed as a way to distinguish a seasoned coach and their significant impact on our sport. With this award their courage, leadership, and strength are being recognized as well as their outstanding commitment to the sport of field hockey.

Cox will be presented with the NFHCA Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's NFHCA Awards Dinner sponsored by AstroTurf. The dinner will take place on Thursday, January 16, 2020, as part of the 2020 NFHCA Annual Convention in Lake Mary, Florida. Cox is the second recipient of the NFHCA's Lifetime Achievement award — Sharon Taylor received the award in 2019.