LAKE MARY, Fla. — On Thursday, January 16, 2020, NFHCA Annual Convention attendees were joined by honoree's friends and family for the NFHCA Awards Dinner sponsored by AstroTurf. Following dinner, the awards ceremony recognized current coaches for their performances during the 2019 season as well as the 2019 Junior Hockey Award winner, the NFHCA Hall of Fame Class of 2019, and our 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
Junior Hockey Award
The ceremony began with the presentation of the Junior Hockey Award to Kerri Withrow Valentine, the founder and director of East Greenwich Youth Field Hockey. East Greenwich Youth Field Hockey has over 150 participants and features a unique coaching model — Valentine looks to high school players to lead her youth participants, who range from kindergarteners to eighth graders. The high schoolers coach the youth teams and lead practices throughout the fall, developing their leadership skills and giving back to their sport and their community.
Spiideo/NFHCA Coaching Staffs of the Year
Also recognized on Thursday were the Spiideo/NFHCA Division I Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year (from left to right): Dina Rizzo and Hannah Prince, Princeton University; Roz Ellis and Lisa Cellucci, the University of Iowa; Kelly Doton, Boston College; Jackie Kane, Fairfield University; Robbert Schenk, Karen Shelton, and Grant Fulton, the University of North Carolina. From this group, the University of North Carolina was selected as the Spiideo/NFHCA National Coaching Staff of the Year — their undefeated 2019 season ended with a 2019 NCAA Division I National Championship and First Point USA/NFHCA Division I National Player of the Year honors for Tar Heel, Erin Matson.
From Division II, staff members from Saint Anselm College (Alyssa Scott and Caroline King-Robitaille) and West Chester University (Amy Cohen and Abby Tepper) joined NFHCA President, Andy Whitcomb, on stage to receive their Spiideo/NFHCA Divsion II Regional Coaching Staff of the Year awards. From the two staffs, West Chester University was selected as the Spiideo/NFHCA Division II National Coaching Staff of the Year — the Golden Rams capped their 2019 campaign with a NCAA Division II National Championship and First Point USA/NFHCA Division II National Player of the Year honors for senior forward, Katie Thompson.
Finally, the Spiideo/NFHCA Division III Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year came to the stage. Coaching staff members from Franklin & Marshall College (Shayna Landis and Kaitlyn Eager), SUNY Geneseo (Margaret McConnell), Centre College (Olivia Shagam and Jenelle Anthony Downs), The College of New Jersey (Robin Selbst), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cheryl Silva, Sarah Fay, Becca Shaw, Katie Stoll, and Katherine Cotton) were presented with awards for their exceptional seasons.
Unable to join the membership in person this year was the Spiideo/NFHCA New England East Region Coaching Staff of the Year and National Coaching Staff of the Year, Middlebury College. The Panthers' 2019 season was highlighted by their third-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship and third-straight NCAA Division III National Championship.
Head coach, Katharine DeLorenzo and assistant coach, Rachel Palumbo, joined the dinner via video — the Panthers' coaching staff is currently abroad in India serving as U.S. State Department envoy for the East India Hockey Project where they work alongside Indian non-governmental agencies in combatting human trafficking in the region by empowering young women through field hockey.
NFHCA Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award
The evening was highlighted by induction of the Class of 2019 into the NFHCA Hall of Fame — this was the 20th class to be added to an esteemed group of coaches.
Eileen Donahue, Enza Steele, and Cynthia Wetmore addressed the crowd before being presented with their awards — each offered effusive thanks and regaled the audience with coaching stories and touching advice.
The Awards Dinner culminated with the presentation of the NFHCA's second Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented to Nancy Cox, the founder and director of Pinnacle Field Hockey Club — beyond her work with the Michigan-based club program, Cox has devoted her life to field hockey, serving as a high school coach, a college coach, and an umpire.
The NFHCA thanks AstroTurf for sponsoring this year's Awards Dinner and for their continued support of the association.