Coach Williams with Shore Regional Field Hockey Alumni Team
West Long Branch: On Wednesday August 8, 2012, Shore Regional High School (SRHS) Coach Nancy Williams, held the second annual alumni Field Hockey game. Approximately 20 former players who graduated from SRHS within the past twenty years came from different parts of New Jersey to participate in this event. Unlike last year, this year’s event was an “alumni Vs. alumni” game where former team members would play against each other head-to-head.
Sue Mannino, a participant in the Alumni Game, also has a daughter on the SRHS Field Hockey team. Mrs. Mannino’s participation showed a continued commitment to the SRHS Field Hockey program and to women’s sports. When asked what she would tell current players, Mrs. Mannino simply said, “Run Fast. Try Hard.”
Enza Mazza, an SRHS alumni (2005) and Assistant Coach, also participated in the event. She has direct contact with Junior Varsity (JV) athletes and stresses that “unity, hard work and a tradition of excellence and responsibility” are evident throughout the SRHS Field Hockey program. When asked what advice she gives to here team, Ms. Mazza simply said “leave it all on the field.”
The game itself was divided into two, twenty-five minute halves and was played on a shortened field. Each team had the opportunity to substitute players several times per half. The teams were divided into to groups based on the year that they graduated with the “even” team wearing green pinnies.
For the first ten minutes of play, each team re-acclimated themselves with just how quick actual game play was. As the game continued each team got stronger. Passes were crisper, the defense tightened up, and scoring opportunities developed as players leaded each other to the goal.
By half time each team was very evenly matched. The second half was a bit more spirited than the first. Each team was taking more chances by making longer passes and trying trick plays to score goals. Several players from both teams made spectacular goal saving plays to keep the score within 1 goal with 2 minutes to play. At the end of regulation, the teams played to an 8-8 tie and there was no shoot out or over-time period.
In just two years, the SRHS Field Hockey Alumni Game has become a tradition that everyone looks forward to. This reunion reconnects old friends and creates new memories. For once this game wasn’t about what was left on the field; rather, it was about being part of something larger.
A large number of current SRHS players watched the entire game from the sidelines. Bailey Bestle, a current SRHS 4th year Field Hockey player, thinks that the alumni game is “a great way for young women to connect to past players and to have a reunion of sorts.” She also added that this is a great way for her team members to connect with women who were part of the same program in the past.
Although Coach Williams held current players out of this event, she hopes to show her current team that the tradition of excellence still brings women back to play the game they love and that former players will never tire of being part of an “elite game.”