Architect of Pine-Richland field hockey program hits 100-win milestone
Friday, October 11, 2019 | 5:30 PM
Pine-Richland field hockey coach Donna Stephenson reached a major milestone in her coaching career, earning her 100th career victory with her team’s 3-0 win over Norwin on Oct. 3.
The significant coaching accomplishment for Stephenson marks another proud moment in the career of the Rams’ field boss, who started the field hockey program at Pine-Richland back in 2004. Since then, Stephenson has worked diligently to build her program from the ground up and extend the overall reach of the sport in the area.
Now, with her 100th win in the books, she said she is enjoying a short opportunity to reflect on how far Pine-Richland field hockey has come.
“I think it’s a validation. The hard work is paying off,” Stephenson said. “The commitment I have to building the youth program has always been there. I have seniors on the team now that have been playing the sport for 11 years. They started back as second graders. It’s validation that the vision and the work is getting us results long-term. It takes a while to build it, right? It’s great to see it pay off.”
While Stephenson began the program in 2004, the Rams did not enter the WPIAL until 2007. The counter on her win total started in that first WPIAL season. The Rams coach continued to helm to team until 2009 before taking a break that lasted until she returned to the program in 2014.
Since beginning her second stint, Stephenson has helped mold the Rams into one of the premier programs in WPIAL Class AAA. In 2017, Pine-Richland won its first WPIAL title. On three occasions (2014, ’16, ’18), the team has finished as runner-up. In ’16 and ’17, the Rams were undefeated in their section.
“The majority of those wins have been accomplished in the last six years,” Stephenson said. “In the beginning, the power structures in WPIAL field hockey were different in terms of dynasty teams. We were successful for a brand-new program, but the expectations were a little different.
“But the majority of the success has come since 2014. I’ve had 76 out of those 100 wins since then. We’ve been in the playoffs every year. We’ve been in the finals four of the last five seasons. We’ve won it once and have been to states the last three years.”
The team’s success shows no signs of slowing down as the Rams were 11-2 overall and 6-0 in Division I at press time.
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