The UNH women's lacrosse team stirred up an awful lot of dust back in 1985. They practiced at night, after a long day of classes, running hard, kicking up clouds of dirt as they worked their way back and forth across "the pit," the indoor training area in the Field House. It was grimy. It was grueling. And, in the end—when the team wound up winning the national championship—it was glorious. The victory was UNH's first—and remains its only—NCAA-sponsored championship.
Most of the team members were actually field hockey players. It was their coach, Marisa Didio '78, who convinced them to give lacrosse a try. She coached both sports, and she knew she had a group of talented athletes. "We didn't think we were special," she says. "We just worked hard." And then, suddenly, after earning an at-large bid to the NCAA championships, UNH was facing off against Maryland's Terrapins, one of the finest teams in the country.
"It was completely surreal," recalls Barb Marois '86, who later played field hockey on the 1996 Olympic team. "We weren't supposed to be there—most of us had never even played lacrosse before!" The coaching made the difference. "Marisa expected a lot out of us and knew how to bring out the best in us," says Marois.
"The game was a nail-biter," says Didio, describing the highlights: the goal by Sarah Kittredge Campbell '86 that broke the 5-5 tie; the final "incredible save" by goalie Robin Balducci '85. The team was greeted by a police escort when they returned to Durham. And this spring, when they returned again for a reunion, they reminisced about that day in May, 25 years ago, remembering what it was like to come out of nowhere—and win. ~
Click on the players to see what they are up to now:
Front row, L to R: Sue Dooley '88, Karen Geromini '88, Sarah Kittredge Campbell '86, Robin Balducci '85, Emily Brown Thorne '89 and Mary Ellen Claffey McLaughlin '86
Middle row, L to R: Lynne Viscio '86, Anne Sherrer Kenney '87, Kate Dumphy Dolan '88, Katey Stone '89, Patti Drury Bettinelli '88, Mary Rogers LaPolice '86 and Coach Marisa Didio '78
Back row, L to R: Heidi Pike Oliver '85, Wendy Crowe Watson '87, Pauline Collins Irwin '87, Suzie Haynes Halle '86, Sandy Vander-Heyden Bridgeman '87, Heather Reynolds Crutchfield '86, Barb Marois '86 and Laura Thompson '88
Where are they now? Expanded online version: check back soon for more updates
1. Sue Dooley '88: vice president of marketing, Airstream
2. Karen Geromini '88: "I've just completed my ninth year as director of athletics/physical education chair at The Winsor School, an all-girls private school for grades 5-12, located right down the street from Fenway Park! I am co-owner of the G&G Sports Camps, where we offer both soccer and field hockey summer camps to girls entering grade 6 through graduating seniors. I live in Boston, a 10-minute walk from work. Prior to Winsor, I was the director of athletics at Thayer Academy, a coed private school for grades 6-12. I was fortunate to have bee given a sabbatical this past fall and travelled all over the world. I started in Moab, Utah, and Aspen where I visited my sister (Laurie Geromini '92), where we mountain-biked and hiked the highest peaks. I then travelled to Portugal as member of the Habitat for Humanity team, where we built the last stages of a house for a family of four. From there, I headed to the San Francisco and Sonoma and did plenty of wine-tasting. One of my hobbies includes winemaking so this trip was the perfect end to my sabbatical."
3. Sarah Kittredge Campbell '86: "I live in southeastern New Hampshire with my family and work in elementary school technology."
4. Robin Balducci '85: "I graduated in the spring of '85 (After the championship) with a teaching degree in physical education. Yes, at that time we still called it Phys. Ed. I took a teaching position at Belmont High School in Belmont, N.H., coaching two sports at Belmont—basketball and men's and women's track while coaching field hockey at nearby Franklin High School. In 1988 I had the good fortune to move into an assistant college field hockey coaching position at Northeastern University with longtime friend and fellow alumna Cheryl Murtagh '81, the head coach. I spent three years at Northeastern as Cheryl's assistant before getting the opportunity to move into the head coaching position I currently hold at UNH. I am extremely grateful for having been given the opportunity to return to UNH. I have been at UNH 19 years and absolutely love being back, living in Durham and enjoying the Seacoast once again. Great things were going on at UNH in 1985 and great things are going on at UNH in 2010—I'm proud to be a part of it."
5. Emily Brown Thorne '89: "I am a mother of two, Walker, 7, and Phoebe, 5. We own a bicycle shop in Beverly, Mass., called Pinnacle Bike Works and an online bicycle retail store, Cyclocrossworld.com. I work part time on both businesses mostly on the accounting end of things."
6. Mary Ellen Claffey McLaughlin '86: software engineer, Enterasys
7. Lynne Viscio '86: "I am a management consultant for CRA, Inc., a consultancy based outside of Philadelphia."
8. Anne Sherrer Kenney '87 [formerly Ann Sherer]: "I am currently a mother of four, three boys and a girl, ages 14, 12, 8 and 5."
9. Kate Dumphy Dolan '88: "I work at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., as assistant dean of studies for advising, teach physical education and coach varsity field hockey and lacrosse."
10. Katey Stone '89: women's ice hockey head coach, Harvard (See her Harvard bio page)
11. Patti Drury Bettinelli '88: "I am the proud wife of John and the busy mom of six kids, four boys and two girls from ages 17 down to 4. I waitress a few nights at Outback Steakhouse and also help my husband with his digital signage company: Signum Digital Solutions."
12. Mary Rogers LaPolice '86: "I currently live in Durham where I grew up and went to school and college--I love it so much! I've been at NIKE for almost 21 years in many capacities, currently an Account Executive in Footwear, Apparel and Equipment Sales in the New England area. It's a dream company to work for and having a sports background at UNH definitely helped my chances for success in this industry.
My wonderful husband, Matt, and I have been married almost 16 years. Matt is from Nashua and went to the dreaded Boston University! Our son Troy, the light of our lives, is 11 and 1/2 and will be going into 6th grade next year. He loves school and plays football, basketball, and lacrosse (which is his favorite, of course!). It's a blessing to still have my parents live locally--always my biggest fans!
UNH field hockey and lacrosse brought with it so many opportunities, memories and lifelong friends, for which I'll always be grateful! Go Wildcats!
13. ** Coach Marisa Didio '78: "I've had my own field hockey school called New England Hockeymates since 2005. It's for high school kids and is run out of UNH in the winter and spring."
14. * Heidi Pike Oliver '85: "I have been the owner of Fitness Horizons, a personal fitness
training company based in York, Maine. This winter I started to work at
Heart Health Institute (York Hospital), teaching and working with the cardiac
rehab classes. Previously, I coached field hockey and lacrosse at Wheaton
College in Norton, Mass., for 11 years. My coaching these days is with the York
Parks and Recreation Department for both youth field hockey and lacrosse. It's
really fun working with the 3rd- to 6th-graders, teaching them the basics of the
sport and watching them develop as athletes. They catch on so quickly!
When I am not working, I still enjoy running, xc skiing, snow shoeing, and
mountain biking (some of which I do with clients). My other passion is
gardening. I joined The Old York Garden Club in 2007 and now co-chair the
Civic Development Committee. We are responsible for planting and
maintaining 22 traffic islands around York.
In 1997 I married Mark Oliver '99 after being set up on a blind date by
two UNH friends. We have two daughters, Lily, 11, and Bailey, 8. It
was really fun this year when Lily went to York Middle School and had Barb
Marios '86 for her PE teacher. The UNH connection is everywhere!"
15. Wendy Crowe Watson '87: "I live in Montpelier, Vt., with my husband, Brad, and two kids, Carly, 15, and Jackson, 13. I work as an
occuaptional therapist with a focus on geriatric rehab and coach the high-school tennis team. I still love to be active, competing in various tennis tournaments, mountain biking, skiing, running and just trying to keep up with the rest of the family! I also compete at the national level for the senior women's intersectionals representing the New England section."
16. Pauline Collins Irwin '87: "I am currently teaching and advising at Montrose School, which is an independent girls school for grades 6-12. I am happily married with four daughters ranging in age from 9 to 18."
17. Suzie Haynes Halle '86: "I'm having a blast raising three children, Henri, Curtis and Madeleine, with my husband, Richard (a lax player I met first day of school in '82). Our kids 17, 15 and 13 are (are you surprised) all playing lacrosse. My oldest is a junior at Creek High School--his lacrosse team just won the state championship this year. This is my fourth year coaching my daughter's 7th grade rec. team, and they just went undefeated to win the Colorado Warrior Jamboree tourney. I personally played my last Vail shootout about five years ago. My second son is on the freshman team and when he's not playing lax, he's rippin' it up on guitar. Richard is training for the Vineman Half Ironman--he will do it with my brother, David '89, this summer. I've since moved on to competing in dressage, a lifelong childhood dream, on my 10-year-old, 18-hand Dutch Warmblood Tennyson-ISF. I co-founded the Cherry Hills Village Equestrian Association, served on the Parks and Trails committees, on the Board of the Cherry Hills Land Preserve and am currently writing articles for a local equestrian publication. After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, Fast Food Nation and seeing my childhood friend Aaron's documentary "King Corn," we were inspired to put in a large vegetable garden and obtain three hens! The eggs are incredible! In winter we ski these fabulous Rocky mountains. Living in Colorado is great and even better since my brother, a fellow lax player, moved out here with his family."
18. Sandy Vander-Heyden Bridgeman '87: former women's lacrosse head coach, UNH, living in Florida.
19. Heather Reynolds Crutchfield '86: associate director of admissions, St. Paul's School
20. Barb Marois '86: "I am the physical education teacher at York MIddle School and the field hockey coach at York High School. I have been coaching for 10 years and teaching in York for about 13."
21. Laura Thompson '88: director, technical marketing and sustainable development, Sappi Fine Paper N.A.