Chrissy Lewis Summers, head coach at the Potomac School in Mclean, Va. and owner of Beyond Sticks, writes from a unique perspective of losing to Coach Marsha Way and giving Way her 500th win.
As the clock wound down on a perfect Fall day and the scoreboard loudly declared "Home: 1 Guest: 2" I knew we were about to join the ranks of literally hundreds of other field hockey teams who’ve come up short. Only one week earlier, our guests, St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va., won their 500th game at home under the helm of head Coach Marsha Way. Since arriving at St. Agnes School (the school merged with St. Stephens School in 1991) in the fall of 1979, she has never missed a season as the varsity coach, even during her tenure as athletic director. Over 35 years, she has amassed an incredible 21 conference championships, 20 conference tournament championships, four Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association championships, and 12 undefeated seasons.
"I was pleased it happened on our home turf. It is just surreal,” remarks Coach Way of the monumental win. Despite achieving a milestone few reach in any level of sport, she is humbled less by the number but by those around her. "I don't want the attention on myself. This happened because of every kid I've ever coached and every assistant coach I've ever had. We did it as a team."
When comparing the game in her early coaching days to now, she is continually amazed at how the sport has evolved. “The kids are just more skilled. The game is much faster and the kids are faster. They can do more with their sticks. It’s great to watch.” Unlike some coaches, as the game evolved, so did Marsha and her staff.
Is there a secret to her success? According to Marsha, her “kids are simply hard workers”. Nonetheless, from what this coach can see, Marsha takes that work ethic, builds upon it, and instills a discipline in them that has created over 3 decades of consistently top level play. When asked to sum up her coaching mantra, it is beautifully simple and effective: “Work hard, play smart, and play as one team.” Her team doesn't just say it; they live it.
Although we plan on working to make sure their 501st win against our squad is her final win on our turf, there is no doubt we will not be the last team to see her players churn out another win for the record books. All under the listing “Head Coach: Marsha Way.”
Congratulations to a fellow coach on being a role model, on making those you play better, on honoring the game we all love, and finally, on scoring more than the other team for 35 years and counting.