WINCHESTER, Va. – Junior Morgan Payne is in her second year of blogging about the field hockey team. In this entry, she offers her thanks to a pioneer in women's athletics.
I want to take time and dedicate this entry to the first coach in program history, the late Lois Bowers. Coach Bowers played a pivotal role in the Shenandoah University field hockey program as she was the first coach when this program started in 2003 and stayed with it until she retired in 2010.
She also was the women's lacrosse head coach who led her team to a USA South Athletic Conference championship. She has had a lasting impact on our university's athletic department and if it were not for her I would not be able to play the sport I love at the school I love.
I have been able to witness firsthand Coach Bowers' impact on one of my coaches. Coach Ware has emphasized her values at practice and has the upmost respect for Coach Bowers. As her coach, Bowers pushed her and encouraged her to be the best player, student, and human possible.
Prior to our game against Lynchburg, a video played in her honor. The stories told by the field hockey alumnae truly expressed how amazing of a coach and person she was. It made me pause, think and realize how fortunate I am to also have four coaches who inspire me everyday. We are pushed to uphold a standard of excellence in our program and also in our daily lives. Intertwined between every hockey practice and drill are life lessons about perseverance, commitment and character, which are the lasting impacts once my hockey career eventually comes to an end. Not to mention I now have a group of people who will always be my family.
Coach Bowers used to say, "Know who you are and what you represent". This simple aphorism has a tremendous meaning. When this program started, she did not even have enough players for a whole team. To see a transformation from that to now is inspiring to say the least.
Last season we won the ODAC championship for the first time in program history as well as being the first women's team to win an ODAC title at SU. None of that would have been possible without the contributions by all the former players and coaches, especially Coach Bowers.
To say thank you is almost not enough in my opinion. As we are about to enter the ODAC Tournament next week, I am so grateful for the path laid by Coach Bowers. As a current player I hope to continue her legacy of hard work, determination, and teamwork. Finally, I know that when I put on my uniform I do it not only for myself, but also for my coaches, teammates, and those who preceded me.