As the scoreboard on the far side of Springfield College’s Stagg Field ticked close toward zero, signaling the end of warm-ups, both the Pride and Fighting Scots of Gordon College field hockey programs lined up against their respective sidelines. It was just part of the pregame process, as each unit would make their way in a single-file line toward midfield for player introductions and the national anthem.
But this was no ordinary pregame. And not just because the weather was uncharacteristically warm for an October afternoon.
Rather, both teams were being led to the center of the field by two of the most influential field hockey figures at not just Springfield College, but in the sport as a whole: Dottie Zenaty and Chickie Poisson.
As part of honoring the 50th year of Title IX, the Pride wanted to recognize the incredible achievements of these two field hockey pioneers. Poisson is an inductee in five athletic halls of fame, including being a member of the inaugural 1988 class of the U.S. Field Hockey Hall of Fame.
Zenaty also has achieved a long list of accolades, including coaching Springfield College field hockey to 15 winning seasons — three of which were undefeated — being a member of the national coaching staff of the U.S. Olympic Field Hockey Development Program, and having been inducted into the New Agenda Northeast Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989.
“I think it was great having them walk the team out,” said Pride head coach, Mia Olsen. “It was really special and nice.”
In such a big game, the Pride rose to the occasion, and defeated Gordon 3-2. Springfield was led by senior forward Maddy Dunne, who scored once, and gave teammate Audrey Dolan a beautiful feed to give her team the lead; one that they would retain by game’s end.
“I mean, that was great,” Dunne said. “I’ve heard amazing things about Dotty, and I know that [Mrs. Poisson] was amazing, too. It was a cool experience to be a part of.”
Following the game, Springfield wasn’t done playing. The Pride invited a youth team from Holyoke, Mass., to join them on the field to play with them, as well as to learn more about Title IX and its impact.
The youth team had a blast under the lights of Stagg, participating in several drills and a quick scrimmage. But the purpose of bringing out the kids was deeper than just having a good time.
“As part of Katherine Mangano’s Title IX Humanics Project, we decided as a team to do this Title IX game and have youth players come as our advocacy project,” Senior Cait Kemp said. “We invited Holyoke youth field hockey to come, and to get them involved and educate them a little bit about Title IX.”
Inviting the youth of the sport to spectate such an important game – while also learning directly from collegiate athletes themselves – was a special moment for both the kids and the members of the Pride.
“I think it’s awesome just to show them that girls at this level really compete,” she said. “Field hockey is not a super popular sport; and by having them here we can educate them about it, and show that they can play at a higher level. I think it’s just important for them to see.”
Photo by Braedan Shea/The Student