"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, inspiration lives among field hockey players and coaches in West Chester, in Chester County, in St. Louis, in North Carolina -- field hockey players and coaches, their fans, their friends and families everywhere.

"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, West Chester East High's former shining star, everywhere -- on the sidelines, the front line, in the midfield, the backfield, the goal cage and everywhere between -- inspiration lives amid league title chases and playoff drives and district fields and final four appearances and berths in the great state tournament and dreams of NCAA championships, dreams of field hockey royalty at all levels of competition near and far.

"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, protégé to legendary Vikings coach Diane Horsey, the great Diane Horsey, in the spirit of Maria Whitehead, inspiration lives.

"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, a great young person who starred on the field hockey stage at East along her rising path to stardom in the NCAA firmament as a champion, a bright, bright, fantastically bright constellation amid the Wake Forest dynasty, inspiration lives.

"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, in St. Louis, where the Billikens live and compete amid a renaissance created by the great young head coach, inspiration lives.

"The inspiration of Maria Whitehead lives in Durham, where as an assistant to Beth Bozman she inspired players and coaches alike time and again during her all-too-brief time at Duke.

"Maria Whitehead's spirit lives in West Chester, at East, where kids play field hockey, commit themselves to a pursuit and pursue excellence every step of the way -- there, in the fields of West Goshen, where little kids swing field hockey sticks and dream of a world of possibilities, all over the county, around the region, the country, the globe, there, in the USFHA Futures camps, there, on the turf at Wake and at Maryland and Chapel Hill and all the ACC homes, there, with the national teams, playing, coaching, there, here, everywhere, the spirit of Maria Whitehead lives.

"Among the disabled children in North Carolina with whom she worked while in college, Maria Whitehead's spirit lives. On Nov. 1, All Saints Day, at age 25, Maria Whitehead died of cancer.

"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, the spirit of field hockey links students, athletes, spirits, minds, souls near and far, here, there, everywhere around the world -- and now and forever the universe.

"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, of Diane Horsey and the great Vikings, of Jennifer Averill and the great Demon Deacons, of the Billikens and of the Blue Devils and of Chester County and West Chester University and Pennsylvania and of young ladies and young men and all people everywhere who play, coach, watch, cheer, invest in, care about, take time out of life for field hockey, inspiration lives.

"Here, there, everywhere little players dream big and little prayers flourish, over all fields ­ field hockey, football, baseball, softball, soccer, coaching, education, work, hard work, philosophy, medicine, the arts, the sciences, humanity -- the inspiration of Maria Whitehead lives.

"Over all of us, and here among us, the spirit of Maria Whitehead lives.

"In the spirit of Maria Whitehead, inspiration lives."

Joe Whalen
Sports Editor
The Daily Local News of West Chester