By Carley Crain
The final game of the 2021 fall season for the Springfield women’s field hockey team marked the end of an era for head coach Melissa Sharpe. A tough 6-0 loss to city rival Western New England was the final game for Sharpe. As tears rolled down her cheeks, she reflected on her time coaching for the Pride.
While Sharpe’s announcement of her resignation came a few days after the season ended, she knew that was it for her. It was the last time she would ever coach for the Pride on Stagg Field.
After 18 years of leading the women’s field hockey team, Sharpe is choosing her family — as she has missed out on time with her kids over the years because of the commitment it takes to be a college head coach.
Sharpe explained to the Athletics department how difficult it is to step away from coaching.
“This has been the absolute hardest decision of my life but it is what is right for my family. Having the opportunity to be at my kids’ sporting events and activities is something I have missed out on the last several years, and now it’s time to focus on my family,” explained Sharpe.
Sharpe first stepped foot on Alden Street as a student-athlete herself in 1998. During her time playing on Stagg, she lit up the field and cemented herself as one of the best field hockey players Springfield College has ever seen.
With 128 points (59 goals and 10 assists), Sharpe is still the second all time scoring leader in program history, and was also named as an NFHCA/STX First-Team All-American during her undergraduate years.
After a successful career playing for the Pride, Sharpe became head coach after her stint as a graduate assistant for the team. While she could have gone anywhere and coached field hockey, Sharpe felt that Springfield was home. It was where she was meant to be.
Springfield College Director of Athletics Craig Poisson enjoyed his time working alongside Sharpe, and has seen her grow not only as a coach, but as a person. He explained to the Athletics department about her lasting impact on the field hockey program.
“From her time as a student-athlete to a teacher coach on Alden Street, Melissa has left a lasting mark at Springfield College. For nearly two decades, she was a role model and leader to all those involved with our field hockey program and helped our young women grow and develop on and off the field,” Poisson said in a statement released by the Athletics department.
In 2004 Sharpe was announced as the head coach for the Pride, as the team then traveled and competed in the NCAA Elite Eight Championship in both 2005 and 2007. Those two seasons were some of the most memorable for the program, as Sharpe played a huge role in the team’s success during this era. In fact, both years resulted in 21-win seasons, the most in single-season program history for Springfield.
Sharpe is also an assistant professor in physical education, and is planning on teaching for the remainder of the school year.
Success for the Pride continued throughout the years both on and off the field. In 2018, the team averaged a 4.29 goal-scoring margin, which was the sixth highest across all collegiate divisions in the country. The 2018 season also marked the most successful era in the classroom for the team, as the combined team GPA was a 3.78, which was the best in the country at the time.
This past fall season was tough for the women’s field hockey team, as they had many away games, long days of traveling, and matched up against some nationally ranked teams. For Sharpe, however, this year will always stick with her.
“I have been blessed to have my dream job for the last 18 years, to coach amazing young women at Springfield College and to work with incredible and supportive coaches and our Director of Athletics, Dr. Craig Poisson,” Sharpe explained in a statement released by the Athletics Department.
A national search is now being conducted to replace Sharpe, but her legacy and contributions to Springfield College will never be forgotten.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics