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Shannon Garden takes over as Severna Park field hockey coach

Shannon Garden is no stranger to field hockey in the county.

The longtime coach and umpire added to her field hockey resume when she was hired as the new head coach of the Severna Park field hockey team in late June. Garden, a Davidsonville resident, spent the last 18 years coaching field hockey at various levels, including the last eight as an assistant to Leslee Brady at Archbishop Spalding.

“I felt like I was ready to take on my own program after so many years as an assistant,” Garden said. “They really needed somebody and I thought I could be that somebody.”

Garden said she was happy at Archbishop Spalding, but after she was approached by a Severna Park parent urging her to look into the Falcons’ opening, she requested a meeting with Severna Park athletic director Dave Lanham. Following the meeting with Lanham, she decided to go through the application process.

“We talked for about an hour and a half, and I felt really good about it,” Garden said. “They (the players) really wanted a coach and they deserve a coach.”

Garden takes over for Ann Andrews, whose contract was not renewed following the 2017 season. The Falcons won the Class 4A East Region title and were preparing for the state semifinal, but were removed from the tournament after all players and coaches were suspended for a game following a school investigation that uncovered some of the players’ participation in a neighborhood prank.

“Coach Garden is extremely knowledgeable and successful with coaching and refereeing field hockey over the years,” Lanham said. “Her love for the game and expertise in the sport has always been on display throughout her coaching and refereeing career. Coach Garden is committed to the continued success of the SPHS field hockey program, building on our tradition of excellence.”

Andrews, who coached the Falcons for seven years, led the team to state titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Severna Park has won a state-record 32 region titles, while its 23 state titles is also a state record.

“There’s only been two coaches before me and they are the winningest team in the state,” Garden said. “They’ve been very well-coached and I have some big shoes to fill.”

Garden, who played at Arundel, has spent the last 15 years umpiring Anne Arundel County recreation, high school and adult league field hockey. Even though she has been coaching in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, she’s seen a lot of the players in the county league while umpiring or coaching club field hockey for SPark. Ironically, she hasn’t coached many players from Severna Park High School since most play club field hockey for the Storm Chasers.

Garden has assembled a staff that includes two former assistants from the back-to-back Class 3A state championship Chesapeake team in Kelly Shanahan and Ben Pardew, along with former Broadneck standout Lexi Bristow.

Garden also assisted the Archbishop Spalding girls lacrosse team, including a stint as the junior varsity head coach.

“Shannon can truly inspire all levels of play. She knows and understands the game and truly gets the most out of each and every kid. I loved my time working with her both on the field hockey and lacrosse field,” Archbishop Spalding girls lacrosse coach Tara Restly said. “Severna Park girls are lucky to have someone who truly cares about, not just the game, but each and every kid on the team and making sure they leave having grown as a person and player while also being part of a competitive program.”

As the team prepares to play in its new stadium this year, Garden says she has at least 10 players returning to the varsity and has been pleased with what the team has shown during summer workouts. She’ll make her head coaching debut on Sept. 4 at Marriotts Ridge and will make her home debut against her alma mater Arundel on Sept. 11.

“We’re just looking forward,” Garden said. “From what I’ve seen while observing summer league games, they’re so good. I can tell they were well-coached because there’s things that I’m used to correcting as a coach that they’re already doing. I’ve received so much support, especially from the seniors. We have some good leaders who are motivated and committed.”

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