AN APPRECIATION

Carole Schoen, head coach, Pequannock (N.J.)

One in an occasional series.

By Al Mattei
Founder, TopOfTheCircle.com

For many physical education instructors in the 1960s, fate might have come through random chance.

In the pre-Title IX era, women didn't "track" into a certain career path through instruction of experience like they sometimes do today.

For Carole Schoen, as the story goes, her destiny came as the result of a coin flip that she won, only to give away.

If Schoen had taken the job as girls' basketball coach and allowed her friend Ruth Kellett to take the field hockey program, Schoen would not have gotten her 500th field hockey win on Oct. 5, 2006.

Nor would she have won a bakers' dozen Northern Hills Conference divisional championships, or her three Morris County Tournament titles, or three state tournament crowns.

Schoen's achievement is as historic as it is folkloric. She is the eighth coach in the history of American scholastic field hockey to reach the 500-win mark, and only the second from New Jersey.

And if Schoen, who has retired from teaching, steps into the coach's box in 2007, she will be the seventh coach to have served 40 years as a field hockey head coach.

"If I portray what these kids do, that means a lot," Schoen tells The Morris County Daily Record. "They work hard and give everything they have. If you want something, you've got to persevere for it. What you do on an athletic field you take into everyday life. Life is what this is about."

Pequannock did not have an easy time against Passaic Valley (N.J.). Indeed, the Panthers left it very late, and left it to sophomore Melissa Mullaney to blast a well-taken corner in the 59th minute to seal the historic win.

"I saw a defender coming right at me," Mullaney tells The Daily Record. "I shot the ball as hard as I could. I was so happy to score. I jumped when it went in. I don't think I've jumped that high in my life. It was all so crazy. I'm so, so happy for Schoen."

It's not hard to feel that way.

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