It was a remarkable season for Carle Place’s varsity field hockey team.
After crushing their competition all season (including highly-contested Garden City—which they hadn’t beaten in 15 years—and Oyster Bay), the girls went on to compete in counties, Long Island championships and then on to states. After advancing against East Rochester in the semi-finals, the girls lost to Whitney Post 1-0 in the Nov. 15 game in Binghamton. It was a tough loss for the team, but they’re not discouraged.
“This loss will help us work harder next year to achieve that goal,” said tenth grader Samantha Reed.
And the girls have excellent role models to look up to when it comes to becoming a state championship team. Six girls on the team have mothers who were on championship field hockey teams at Carle Place.
Among them are Kristen Reed, Jennifer Selhorn and Annette McKeough who had undefeated seasons and won three state championships in the ’80s. Fellow field hockey alum Christine Imrie won states in 1990 and Aileen Laino won county championships in 1976.
“Field hockey was an extremely big part of our lives,” said Selhorn, whose eighth-grade daughter Abby plays defense. “Everyone on the team was best friends, and many of us still keep in touch. There were lots of good memories.”
Among those memories were bus trips and hotel stays for state championship games, field hockey camps and practices that involved runs to Hicks Nurseries. And of course, multiple state titles.
“We remember the working and winning,” said McKeough with a laugh.
Reed, Selhorn and McKeough got scholarships to play field hockey in college. Selhorn, McKeough and Imrie coached at the high school and all five also coached (or currently coach) LIFHA (Long Island Field Hockey Association), laying the foundations of a field hockey career for their daughters and countless others starting from fourth grade. Several of those players went on to join the high school’s varsity team.
“That has been one of the most rewarding things,” noted McKeough, mom to two girls on the varsity team. “At first, we wanted to instill a passion in them. We wanted them to love field hockey and then the skill would come later.”
Varsity coach Carol Nesdill says having such experienced, passionate coaches in the youth program has made a huge difference in the field hockey program.
“Having them coach, with their expertise and passion was able to pass on a tremendous amount of information to all the players,” said Nesdill. “And when other parents see that their kids are getting taught from experienced coaches and are getting better, it makes them want to be involved too.”
The players credit their moms not only as their biggest supporters, but also for being athletic role models.
“They always supported us no matter what and they went through this same process,” noted Briana McKeough, whose eighth-grade sister Giana is also on the team.
“They served as a model of what to be like and what it’s like to have that feeling of being victorious out there,” added Lauren Nagy, daughter of Christine Imrie. “They were similar to our team, and you can see how all that hard work will pay off in the end. It’s extra motivation for us to do well.”
While it’s been an exciting ride for the girls, the experience has been equally rewarding for their mothers, who have helped train and encourage them from the very beginning.
“I thought my proudest moment would be as a player on the field, and then I thought it would be when I was a coach taking my players to states. But then I sat on the sidelines at states and watched my daughter play. That was my proudest moment,” said Selhorn, whose eighth-grade daughter Abby plays defense.
“I was a three-time state championship, undefeated, played D-1 in college and I still play as an adult,” said Reed. “And now seeing Samantha, in my heart of hearts I believe she’s better than I ever was. I’m prouder than I ever thought I would be. I always knew she would do it. I didn’t know she’d do it better.”
And for the moms who invested, and continue to invest countless hours into their children’s field hockey careers, being a part of the team isn’t just about the trophies, titles or accolades.
“Field hockey was one of the biggest memories of my life, and I wanted my kids to experience that. That was my goal from that get-go. I didn’t care what sport it was, I just wanted my kids to experience that,” said McKeough. “And I’m fulfilled now.”