Motivational coach drives team year-round

By John Holloway
October 30, 2003

Leslie Glavin

There is no stopping Cabrini’s field hockey team. Win or lose, Jackie Neary coaches these girls on and off the field. Saturday, Nov. 1, starts the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference journey to the field hockey finals with a playoff game against Alvernia.

Lacrosse did not give the die-hard coach enough satisfaction. In 1996, Neary took the position as both field hockey and lacrosse coach. “Most of my girls play both sports, with me as both coaches, I get to stay with my team year-round,” Neary said.

“She motivates us to do our best all the time,” Anne Tye, forward line and sophomore, said. “She’s an inspiration,” Junior Julie Smith, defense, said. Neary battled with ovarian cancer three years ago, and still made it to practices and as many games as she could. “We love Jackie, because she makes us love life.” Kerri Devany, junior and forward line, said.

According to Neary, this is the first team in four years to have a shot at the finals. Unfortunate circumstances forbade her from attending the finals a few years back, but this year she is ready to go every step of the way.

Key players on the team are the captains Maureen McQuade and Jodi Sodano. “I can put them anywhere on the field, and they tear it up,” Neary said. Stepping up for the juniors, Smith and Christina Paster are strong defensive women.

A graduate from Temple, Neary played the spring and fall sports for the four years she attended. After graduation, she took on an assistant coach job for the Temple women’s lacrosse team. At the same time, she helped coach Ridley High’s field hockey team. “The transition from college level to high school level was great; it was a terrific way to recruit.” In 1995, Neary came to Cabrini to be head women’s lacrosse coach. A year later when the position opened, Neary became the field hockey coach as well.

The field hockey team takes on a different strategy for each team they play. Neary likes playing in the playoffs because she has played the teams once or twice already during the season. She knows the different team’s styles, so they can build on plays based on previous games.

The field hockey team is hoping to clinch the PAC coming in with an 8-3 record for the season. “We could be 3-8 and Jackie would be just as proud and supportive of us,” Melina Moore, sophomore and midfielder, said. Smith said, “She makes sure we’re happy to be alive. It doesn’t matter if we win.”

The team holds a special quality winning team’s desire. Everyone was a few minutes early for this past Monday’s practice, motivated and talking eagerly, disregarding their recent loss the Saturday before.

Senior Stephanie Heinz said, “We are a tight group of girls, lead by an amazing coach.”

Posted to the web by Ryan Norris

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John Holloway

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