Pequannock Field Hockey
When Carol Schoen became the field hockey coach at Pequannock High School Lyndon Baines Johnson was president.
Schoen takes a simple approach to the way she coaches the team.
“My philosophy is that I’m here to teach them to go out there and do their very best in everything they do, whether it’s practice or in a game and for them to be responsible in everything they do through their lives,” Schoen said with a smile. “Being committed, being dedicated, working hard. I think all the things that are necessary to carry on a successful adulthood can be learned through sports.”
Schoen has won more than 500 games in her 43 years heading up the program. She’s won two state championships since she started coaching in 1967. Schoen and a friend flipped a coin to determine who would coach the basketball and field hockey team. Schoen was supposed to coach the basketball, but ended up coaching field hockey instead. She said decision worked out for the best.
Schoen has seen the landscape of women’s sports dramatically change during her career. Women’s high school sports used to be nothing more than organized after school activities. Inter-scholastic sports programs, conferences, and leagues did not exist when she was in high school. Title IX helped to change that. It helped make it possible for interscholastic women’s high school sports to exist. The legislation was part of the Education Amendments of 1972.
“The first year I taught here it was called a play day, you played field hockey or basketball, but girls’ sports weren’t recognized,” Schoen said.
Girls’ fall sports leagues starting forming in the early 1970s. The Golden Panthers went 7-0 in their first year and were league champions by their third year.
Schoen won state championships in 1983 and 1985.
Although the sport has remained popular within certain communities and schools, it is becoming more and more difficult to get and keep players interested in the sport.
“When I first started to coach here, kids didn’t own cars, they didn’t have a job. The kids who came, they were so excited to have something to do after school,” Schoen said “The kids of today have so much on their plate, they’re involved in so much.”
There weren’t any summer camps or club teams for field hockey players in the 1960s or 1970s. Kids didn’t have the opportunity to specialize in sports like they do now. Young athletes used to be two- or three-sport athletes. Now between club teams and summer camps, kids are playing one sport all year around.
Junior captain Michelle Fallon wants to play field hockey for a Division I college, a goal she said is realistic thanks to Schoen.
“She taught me everything I know about field hockey,” Fallon said. “I attended her clinics when I was younger. She has such a passion for the sport and that comes across so clearly.”
Schoen runs field hockey clinics for third- through fifth-graders, but the sport isn’t as easy for kids to play as soccer or other sports. Soccer and cross-country require minimal equipment, if any. Field hockey requires its players to use equipment and a unique set of skills that are much different than the skills required to play tennis, soccer, or basketball.
“I’m losing girls earlier and earlier,” Schoen said. “I do have a couple of girls who play nothing but field hockey.”
The technology of the game has changed since she joined
“Now you’ve got teams where the level of play is much higher,” Schoen said.
At the start of practice Schoen has the girls jog in the gymnasium.
“Come on ladies, let’s go, run,” Schoen said. “Pick up the pace. Let’s go!”
Being on Schoen’s team, or any sports team, requires commitment.
“A job, your family, there are things you just can’t walk away from,” Schoen said. “For these kids, this is something they can’t walk away from and they need to realize that.”
Potential captains must apply for the position and be nominated by their teammates.
“It’s not about popularity,” said Kelsey Dudgeon, a senior captain. “It’s more about leadership.”
Schoen wants her players to earn the position and, most importantly, have the respect of their fellow players.
“I ask the players to be honest and fair,” Schoen said. “It’s not about who their friend is.”
This year’s team is comprised mostly of juniors and seniors. The players have a great deal of respect for Schoen.
“It is an honor to play for her,” Dudgeon said. “There is not one thing you could ask her about field hockey that she doesn’t know the answer to.”
Schoen walks up and down the sidelines at practice, constructively criticizing her players, letting them know how they can improve their skills. She is very energetic.
“It’s contagious,” Dudgeon said. “She is a really big reason why I play. She just makes it a lot more fun.”

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