Exposing Excellence – St. Stephens coach wins

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On the field hockey field at St. Stephens & St. Agnes High School, girls varsity coach Marsha Way treats each game with utmost importance, sharing a philosophy that keeps the teenagers down to earth: When you think youre there, you aint.

Playing field hockey, like other things in life is hard work, she said, and thats the attitude that took her to the 400th win of her career as a coach when her team, the Saints, recently won over St. Catherines in Richmond, Sat., Sept. 29.

She makes us treat every game like its the biggest, said Erika Herrera, 17, the Saints right midfielder. Lila Samperton, at center midfield, took that attitude to the net, remembering that game. It went into overtime, she said, but none of the players realized it was the 400th win until after the dust had cleared.

We didnt want to give them any pressure, said the athletic director Samantha Eustace. So far this season, theyve won all their games except one tie.

Ways philosophy doesnt change throughout the season, and stole a phrase from Coach Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins: Whoever you play is your toughest opponent, she said.

The game against St. Catherines topped a weekend streak of wins for the Saints and the team gathered to recognize Coach Ways achievement before the regional game against Episcopal High School the following week.

Its all about you guys, she told the team. Her winning formula includes lots of hard work and not giving up, she said. Were all going to be faced with stuff thats tough [in life], she said.

Joan Holden, the head of school at St. Stephens, values Ways strengths, teaching the fundamentals while being competitive, and keeping a sense of humor throughout. She makes the experience on the field an enjoyable one for the coaches and players, Holden said.

One of Coach Ways first players, Prue (Holman) Waters was in town from Atlanta on a business trip and showed up for the game. Somehow she managed to talk all her co-workers into staying at the Hilton right up the street instead of a hotel right near their destination. Waters played in Coach Ways first victory against Calverton School in 1979. She was as good for the first game as she was the last game I played for her, said Waters.

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