The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) field hockey team begins its season as it always does, with high expectations.
After all, the team has made the postseason tournament for the past 31 years, won its league title several times, and played in the 2000 state championship game over that span.
One thing is different. This season, head coach Lisa Knight will be prowling the sidelines for the last time. So we have 18 games and expected postseason appearances to watch the longtime MVRHS teacher and coach display the passion and novel moves (including cartwheels from time to time) that have made the field hockey program a premier sport at MVRHS.
Knight estimates the team has won more than 250 games during her tenure, which began in 1999 as the Cape and Islands champs. The Vineyarders will try to add to the total on Sept. 10 at 4 pm at home against Sturgis West Charter School.
Last season, the Vineyarders were 13-6-1, advancing to the south sectional quarterfinals.
“I am excited about the season, can’t wait for it to begin, but it was just time for me to step aside and make a way for the next generation of coaches. I’m coaching daughters of kids I coached. No granddaughters yet,” she laughed in a telephone interview with the Times this week.
Knight retired from teaching this academic year, and has a yen to work with Special Olympics, with which she’s been involved for several years. “I taught adaptive physical education for special needs kids at MVRHS, and that exposed me to Special Olympics, and I loved the kids and the program,” she said.
But first things first, and Knight is excited about the season. “We’re back in the Cape and Islands League, where we competed at the beginning of my career, so that’s kind of special,” she said.
She also has a special cast of athletes in 2018, including four captains who excel in a variety of MVRHS sports, though Knight regards them as field hockey players first and foremost. Seniors Mackenzie Condon, Abby Marchand, Addy Hayman, and Meghan Sonia will lead a group, including 12 seniors, this fall.
Other seniors include Allyse Guyther, Lollie Bezahler, Sally Caron, Hailey Meader, Sophie Combra, Alley Estrella, Christian Schmidt, and Maria Donohue. “This is a senior group that has been invested in the program, and we have invested in them as well,” Knight said, noting, “We have lots of juniors as well, including Amelia Simmons, our goalie.”
Knight thinks the Vineyarders figure to be strong in the five-team C&I League. “But we’ve scheduled a lot of road games with strong teams, particularly teams that play on turf. All tournament games are played on turf, and we have to get experience with turf. That’s where the game is going,” she said.
MVRHS field hockey gets big numbers, and the 2018 program attracted 56 players. “That’s down a little, but it gives us more one-on-one time, particularly with the freshman and sophomore JV players,” Knight said.
Knight credits strong community support and the work of her assistants, most of whom played for her and know the system well, she said. Assistant coaches include Kaylea Moore, Beth Blankenship O’Connor, and Kendall Robinson. No successor has been announced for Knight.
But it’s a season to savor. Mom, Ann Moore, in her purple beads, and Dad, Fritz Moore, in fan getups, will be in the stands as always. We can be there as well, to pay homage to Coach Knight’s tradition of excellence.