MVRHS coaching legend receives distinguished service award


In her decades-long coaching career at MVRHS, Lisa Knight wore many different hats.

In addition to teaching health, psychology, and phys ed, Knight coached field hockey for 34 years (19 years as the head coach), softball for 16 years, girls basketball for 11, and even coached junior varsity girls lacrosse for a year.

She also helped kick-start the unified sports program, taking dozens of athletes and their mentors to the annual Special Olympics of Massachusetts over a seven-year period.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, and coaching became a way of life,” the Oak Bluffs native said. “Sometimes I still get the itch to pick it up again.”

Five years after retiring, Knight is officially getting her flowers.

On Wednesday — National Girls and Women in Sports Day — Knight received the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (MIAA) Distinguished Service Award at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, alongside dozens of other ambassadors of women’s athletics.

“It’s pretty surreal. It’s something I won’t forget,” Knight said. “It takes a village to do what we did at MVRHS, and we had a village. I’m eternally grateful.”

Knight’s impact at the high school spanned multiple generations. 

She coached her own younger sisters and nieces, and she coached athletes who would end up serving as assistant coaches under her. 

In 1999, when Knight took the head field hockey coaching reins from Anne Carmichael-Whiting (formerly Lemenager), she led the Vineyarders to the state championship game.

“I realized this girl was so much better at coaching than I was. She’s a phenomenal educator, and person,” Carmichael-Whiting said. “She had an enthusiasm and love of all kids, and there wasn’t a kid who didn’t love her — her office was a respite. She’s one of a kind.”

Knight admits she wasn’t the most laid-back coach, but her impassioned coaching style obviously paid off.

“I was not a silent coach. I was vocal and excitable. I miss blowing a whistle,” Knight said with a laugh. “But the kids let me coach. I was blessed.”

Knight was not the only Vineyarder recognized by the MIAA on Wednesday.

Freshman Kelly Pacheco and juniors Kathleen Vieira Da Silva and Aedan Coogan were recognized for their qualities of commitment, perseverance, and achievement, and as role models for girls and women striving for excellence through sport.

Pacheco is a three-sport athlete, and captain of the softball team; Da Silva is a unified student partner for basketball and track; and Coogan is a three-sport athlete, and is Knight’s niece.

“The day was motivational and empowering,” Da Silva said. “The panelists gave the message of how far we have gotten in women’s sports.”


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