Field Hockey Coach of the Year: Ashley Fishell-Shaffer, Sparrows Point

Ashley Fishell-Shaffer

Sparrows Point

For the Pointers to win their first Baltimore County divisional championship, they had to be nearly perfect within Division 2.

At 9-0 they were, thanks to what they learned from their coach: mental toughness, a positive attitude, and the knowledge that if they didn't win, "it was just a game and the sun would come up tomorrow."

It was a lesson that life had taught Fishell-Shaffer, 29, who lost a baby at the start of the 2010 season because of a genetic defect and had a miscarriage last April. She entered this season pregnant again, facing more genetic testing. It could have been a distraction. Instead, she turned all of it into a learning tool for her players and motivation for herself.

"We agreed we'd be more focused on hockey," she said. "Yes, I'm pregnant, but let's focus on hockey. And they decided they wanted to win every game in their division and they made it quite special."

Sparrows Point overcame small numbers, the lack of a turf field or long-standing junior-league development program, and Fishell-Shaffer's gaining 40 pounds, which forced her to change her custom coaching style of practicing alongside her players.

The Pointers (11-2) won the final two regular-season games, needing overtime in one to clinch the division crown and a strong second half in another to finish perfect in its division.

Fishell-Shaffer is due to be a mother Jan. 15.

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