By Andy Loigu
Well deserved First Team All-State honors have been bestowed by The Star Ledger to Warren Hills field hockey forward Dani Profita, and the Coach of the Year designation went to Kate Rothman, who was hired to lead the Blue Streaks just two weeks before practice was to start in August.
Definitely two great achievements, not only for Warren Hills, but Warren County!
Laurie Kerr stepped down after 15 years as a phenomenally successful head coach at Warren Hills and Rothman picked up where she left off this year, leading Warren Hills to its second consecutive state championship in Group III.
The team also won championships in the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament (for the third consecutive year) and Skyland Conference.
No one was quite sure what to expect in 2015. New coach, five top scorers lost to graduation, and new overall challenges.
Profita, only a junior, was chosen to both the overall All-State Team (consisting of all groups) and the Star-Ledger’s Group III team. She produced amazing numbers, scoring 41 goals and distributing 25 assists, breaking the school’s single-season scoring record previously held by Sydney Muntone, who is now playing in college for the Drexel Dragons. In a Group III semifinal win over Summit, Profita scored her 78th career goal to break the school’s career scoring record.
Of course, the modest Profita would be the first to tell you she did not lead Warren Hills to a 22-3-1 record and the fourth rung in the Star Ledger’s New Jersey Top 20, by herself. She would say that it was a “team effort”, and it was.
Profita’s teammate, senior forward Megan Thompson, earned third team honors on the all-groups unit and first team in Group III.
The Blue Streaks’ 2015 edition also featured seniors Rachel Phillips, Julie DeSanto, Madelyn Roerig, and Katie Thompson.
Rebecca Lezon, Mikayla Dugan, Rebecca Sigman, Brie Schwab, Sydney Moskal, Alyssa Appleby, Tara Null, Tali Popinko, Caroline Cotte, Tyler Stoner, and goalkeeper Jacqueline deRaismes are expected to be returning players to next year’s varsity squad, joining forces with Profita, going for the “Group III three-peat.”
Kerr won the Star Ledger’s New Jersey Coach of the Year distinction in 2014, for leading the Blue Streaks to their first state title, after several frustrating near misses. They were the Brooklyn Dodgers of field hockey, after they had lost the final to Ocean City six times before beating them last year. Unlike the Dodgers, who lost a rematch with Don Larsen and the Yankees the following season, the Blue Streaks beat Ocean City in the final once again this year. Just to show that last year was no fluke.
Last year, Kerr was only the second coach from New Jersey to be named the National High School Coaches Association Field Hockey Coach of the Year. Her lifetime career record at Warren Hills was 265-71-12.
In interviews, Kerr always gave her players credit for her streak of success. She certainly connected well with parents, as evidenced by the many all-area and Player of the Year performers her teams produced who were sisters. The Schott, Springmeyer, Popinko and Fritts sisters immediately come to mind.
In what this writer considered a wise move, Warren Hills hired Gregg Wiseburn as the field hockey program’s JV coach and as a varsity assistant this season. Like Kerr, Wiseburn is a Warren Hills graduate. He was a winning wrestler in high school and has coached high school wrestling in Maryland and Massachusetts. He can learn specific things about field hockey from the other coaches and the experienced players themselves, but what he brings to the program is work ethic and dedication to all things Warren Hills, and he is someone who any serious athlete would respect.
It is good to remember that John Goles, recently inducted into the Warren County Hall of Fame at Warren County Community College, built the state’s most decorated wrestling program from scratch, with no prior experience in the sport. Wiseburn’s enthusiasm for athletics is a product of the program Goles established and Gregg has an opportunity to keep the ball rolling for the Warren Hills traditions that people like Goles and Kerr and others have set into motion.
Good programs start and continue with good people.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.