The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Field hockey and women’s teams deserve more recognition

Since+2017%2C+the+St.+Joe%E2%80%99s+field+hockey+team+has+not+missed+an+NCAA+Division+I+Championship.%0APHOTO%3A+MITCHELL+SHIELDS+%E2%80%9922%2FTHE+HAWK
Since 2017, the St. Joe’s field hockey team has not missed an NCAA Division I Championship. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s not just a basketball school

For as far back as most fans can remember, St. Joe’s has been touted as a “basketball school.” A university filled with tradition, pride and a deep seated history in the basketball-centric city of Philadelphia. Throughout the years, both the St. Joe’s men’s and women’s basketball teams saw Atlantic 10 (A-10) championship titles, NCAA Division I tournament runs, conference crowns and a plethora of professional talent from forward/guard Cliff Anderson ’67 to guard Natasha Cloud ’15. 

Amid the major successes the St. Joe’s basketball programs saw in their history, it’s easy to notice the downward trend that both the men’s and women’s teams experienced in the past few seasons. The men’s team hasn’t posted a winning regular season record since the 2015-16 season. The women’s team has also struggled to make their way above .500 in the regular season for the past three years, with their last winning season in 2017-18.

However, there is a team on St. Joe’s campus that has earned a winning percentage of .500 or above for every season they’ve participated in since 2014, and they aren’t getting the recognition they deserve for it. They consistently win A-10 Championships, earn national acclaim and fight for NCAA tournament bids. While the basketball teams at this “basketball school” continually disappoint, the St. Joe’s field hockey team overachieves.

Since 2017, the field hockey team has not missed an NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship as a representative of the A-10, not including their 2020 campaign for a four-peat which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From 2016-19, the field hockey team has produced four different All-Americans student athletes throughout the first, second and third tiers, more than any other team at St. Joe’s in that time frame. From there, they’ve only continued to bolster their roster, bringing in notable recruits and coaches such as freshman forward Manu Ghigliotti, who spent time with Argentina’s U-21 national field hockey team, and assistant coach Alyssa Parker, who is a member of the U.S. national field hockey team. 

Led by a group of veteran seniors such as midfielder Cassidy Atchinson, back Nicholl Fenton and forward Sara Hayes, and featuring a mixture of exciting prospects such as two-time Bucks County Courier Times Player of the Year freshman forward Katelyn Cocco, the field hockey team has topped the 2020-21 A-10 preseason poll. 

And while their season did not start exactly how they envisioned, with their first two matches of the season either canceled or postponed, A-10 success is no doubt where the bar is set. This season comes off the back of three successive NCAA tournament appearances, while also topping the A-10 preseason poll for the third time since 2018.

While many Hawk fans would argue based on the history of our basketball programs that St. Joe’s is a “basketball school,” the recent consistent success of our university’s field hockey team would beg to differ.

This is a program that is consistently prominent on the national collegiate field hockey scene, a program which improves season after season under four-time A-10 Coach of the Year Lynn Farquhar, becoming the most successful team on campus for the last 10 years. 

For all the matchups, trophies and accolades that both the field hockey team and its individual student athletes have gathered for this university, they deserve more recognition and support than they receive from the St. Joe’s community. 

While field hockey at the collegiate level is primarily a women’s sport with no Division I athletic programs fielding men’s field hockey team, I wonder if St. Joe’s field hockey would be more popular if it was a men’s program.

We often see this with the basketball teams. While both the men’s and women’s programs have struggled in recent memory, the women’s last national tournament appearance came in 2018 when they qualified for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, while the men haven’t been to a national tournament since 2016.

As a university, we need to do a better job of celebrating our women’s athletic programs and their many accomplishments moving forward.

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