The Future is in Good Hands: Emily Halderson
With leaves changing color and coolness creeping into the air, the Fairfield University field hockey team opened October 2019 by hosting Sacred Heart University. While the meeting between these two teams is always spirited, senior Emily Halderson had another reason to be excited.
Members of Woofgang & Co. were present to support Halderson much in the same way she has supported them over the last three years.
Woofgang & Co. is a nonprofit organization driven to help young people with disabilities succeed by creating ways to adapt vocational skills to the individual, while providing high-quality pet treats and handcrafted novelty items with passion and purpose.
“During my sophomore year, I lived in Faber Hall which was the Creative Life residential college at the time,” Halderson said. “While on retreat, we completed different activities, one of which was finding a nonprofit organization in Fairfield that we were passionate about.”
“I fell in love with Woofgang & Co.,” Halderson added. “I wanted to take advantage of the resources that I have as a student-athlete at Fairfield University to make a larger impact. With the help of Jeanne DiMuzio and my coach, Jackie Kane, I was put into contact with co-founder Kelly Maffei and that started my relationship with their organization.”
Maffei and her fellow co-founders Amy Stern and Kris Burbank, had envisioned a business that would provide meaningful vocational training in their community for transitioned young adults with disabilities and would increase community awareness of the need for local employment options for these individuals. It was the premise that enticed Halderson to become involved with the group.
“The people that work with this organization are also a large part of what drew me to supporting this cause,” Halderson said. “Their passions and their aspirations align with a lot of my values. I have met some of the kindest and most spirited individuals. It has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I will be forever grateful for the time and experiences that Woofgang & Co. has given me.”
Halderson volunteers weekly as a store manager and supervises the members of Woofgang & Co. at their retail store on Post Road in Fairfield. She also runs an annual fundraising event on campus that brings the Fairfield University community together in an effort to support this organization.
“I decided to host a Bingo Night fundraiser through Fairfield at Night on campus,” Halderson said. “With the help of the athletic department, Creative Life, Fairfield at Night, and Woofgang & Co., I was able to successfully make this fundraiser possible.”
In her sophomore year, Halderson’s efforts raised $300 for the group. One year later, Halderson was able to spearhead another Bingo Night that brought in more than $1,600. This year’s event was cancelled in the spring of 2020 but she hopes to resurrect the Bingo Night in 2021.
“The success of the second year went beyond the financial,” Halderson said. “Jim Fitzpatrick [assistant vice president for auxiliary services] continued his unwavering support by allowing the members to eat in the Tully Dining Commons prior to the event which made it even more special for them.”
In addition to the support she received from the University community, Halderson is also quick to express her gratitude to other athletic teams and the student population.
Success seems to follow Halderson around campus whether it be as a student or an athlete. She was a tri-captain along with Danielle Profita and Luzi Persiehl in 2019 as the trio led Fairfield field hockey to its most celebrated season ever. The Stags posted a 19-3 record, earned national rankings in seven weekly polls, and posted a 12-game winning streak.
Halderson points to several key moments during the 2019 season which seemed to create the winning culture. Beginning with the Stags’ 3-2 overtime win against nationally ranked Boston College on the road through their home-field NCAA Championship Tournament win two months later.
But Halderson’s most personal highlight draws back to that October afternoon when Woofgang & Co. was in the stands and walked out on the field during the introduction of starting lineups. It was a moment that she will always cherish.
“That day was one of my most favorite memories,” Halderson said. “The members brought signs to cheer our team and it was special when they walked out with the members of our team. To see the excitement on their faces and to be able to play for them was an extremely rewarding and eye-opening experience.”
“Emily is a truly leader,” said Fairfield head coach, Jackie Kane. “She has set a standard that her teammates and coaches admire and try to emulate. On the field, this translates into a quiet confidence for her own play and those around her. I am so proud of the leader Emily has become in her service to our team and to others. The entire team has benefitted from our interaction with the Woofgang & Co crew.”
The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) is recognizing student-athletes who are community contributors, agents of change, and campus leaders. The Future is in Good Hands series highlights the exceptionality of field hockey student-athletes for their work on and off the field.
The content for this article was generously provided by Fairfield University Athletic Communications.