With lots of good news to celebrate so far this season, Varsity Field Hockey Coach John Savage couldn’t be happier. The Mamaroneck High School team, which boasts a regular
season record of 14-2-1 this year and just beat Brewster 5-0 yesterday in the first round of Sectionals, looks promising heading into the quarter-finals; Coach Savage just recently captured his 200 th career win, and MHS senior Mady Despins was named Con Edison’s Athlete of the Week.
“Mady is very deserving of this award. She is willing to do things that others may not be willing to do to be successful, not only on the field but in life,” said Coach Savage, who has spent the last 15 years as head field hockey coach at Mamaroneck High School. “We have lots to be proud of, and the team is in good shape as we begin Sectionals.”
With a strong tradition as a winning program, the Mamaroneck High School girls field hockey team has made it to Sectional finals for seven consecutive years, including four times as champions. Con Ed Award winner Despins attributes much of this success to the hard work ethic that Coach Savage employs and to the teamwork and bonding he and the other coaches help foster among the players.
“Each year, Coach Savage’s team works just as hard as the last,” Despins says. “He helps us build an amazing work ethic, getting each of us to work as hard as we can possibly work and never say ‘what if”….’what if I had worked just a bit harder? Then, maybe we could have won that game.’”
Despins explains that encouraging team bonding and getting to know each other both on and off the field has been part of the team’s culture for years. “We have a tradition of a team dinner before every game. The more you get to know each other off the field, the better you’ll know each other on the field and be able to predict what someone will do or what move they’ll make. This translates into better play,” she says.
Anticipation builds as everyone wonders how far the team will go this year. Coach Savage tells the team that getting through the Sectionals will be the toughest challenge. “There are some good teams in the Section this year, but, as Coach Savage says, if we win the Sectionals, we’ve got a pretty good shot at winning States. We have the ability to beat any team,” Despins says. “Properly applying what we know how to do will be the key.”
Despins says beating Scarsdale, which was undefeated in the League, twice in one week was one of the season’s highlights. Another highlight was receiving the Con Ed Award.
“I was totally surprised,” she said. “They called me down to the athletic office and I thought it had something to do with the yellow card I received the day before (the one and only one she received in her field hockey career for telling the ref that the ball didn’t hit her foot). It’s a great honor to receive this award.”
The Con Edison Athlete of the Week recognizes students in Westchester and Putnam schools who excel athletically. Academic achievements, leadership, citizenship, school and community activities are also factors. The winner is selected each week by a panel of athletic directors and coaches who review ballots submitted by each athlete’s athletic director or coach.
Beyond field hockey, Mady has been involved in numerous extra-curricular and community service activities. The activity most on Mady’s mind right now is her involvement as founder and president of the Students for Senegal club, which gives aid to a school in Africa. Mady and her friend initiated the club a couple years ago with their chemistry teacher, Amary Seck, who is from Senegal. They will be traveling with a group to the country in February, when they deliver the supplies they’ve collected and the money they’ve raised for the high school there.
The field hockey team took the State Championship in 2004; was State runner-up in 2005 and 2009, and advanced to the final four last year. In his 15 seasons as head coach, Savage has a record of 201-69-21.
“I think it’s a credit to our kids that I’ve been able to achieve 200 wins ," Savage said. "The girls are willing to put the effort in to be successful, and they’ve bought into the concept that you can be successful if you work hard and support one another”
The MHS field hockey team will battle Yorktown tomorrow in the Sectional quarter-finals at 2 pm at Flint Park.
–Debbie Manetta is public information officer for Mamaroneck School District