Sunday, September 13, 2009

Emmaus program celebrates 50 years of success

UNITED STATES: Nothing they do in the Emmaus field hockey program is done halfway. Until now.
The Green Hornets are celebrating their 50th season this year, taking them halfway to 100, or a century. Nothing about that benchmark has been approached halfway.
The booster club has produced a media packet in the school's green and gold with a logo celebrating the accomplishment and five crisp typed pages of notes. On the fence behind the visitors bench hangs a sign commemorating this season.
The program has known only two head coaches: Virginia Huber went 138-28-31 from 1960-75. Sue Butz-Stavin took over from there, going 691-72-33. She should eclipse the 700-win total in the coming weeks.
Butz-Stavin ranks second all-time for wins among high school head coaches. Her 2001 induction into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association hall of fame came as no surprise.
The program's achievements read like a never-ending dynasty: 34 conference titles, 24 District 11 titles, nine state titles, two national titles.
Butz-Stavin regularly sends her seniors to Division I programs with scholarships. The next girl to do so will be the program's 100th. Four current seniors have already made verbal commitments to college programs.
Emmaus alumni often go on to great success in college.
Cindy Werley (twice) and Autumn Welsh won Honda national Best Player of the Year awards. Kristin McCann and Werley made the USA national team. Werley also played on the Olympic team.

Butz-Stavin and her girls annually face a standard so high that any loss seems to blemish the considerable history. That's why the players organize their own summer practices -- six days a week. The recent addition of the artificial turf surface and stadium lights have modernized the program that once played off-campus high up South Mountain in the uneven outfield of a baseball field.
This season the program will play its 1,000th game, the 800th for Butz-Stavin. Half a century of success at Emmaus means something more than just about any other sport at just about any other Lehigh Valley high school.
The expectation this year will not change: league title, district title, state title, national title. While the game has progressed and the world has changed, Emmaus' commitment to success and demands have remained the same in an age when commitment takes on various definitions.
The program will officially celebrate the milestone on Oct. 17 when Emmaus hosts interstate rival Eastern High of New Jersey, currently ranked third in the nation. That 7 p.m. game will follow an alumni reunion at Memorial Field at 5 p.m. Alumni from every class will return to commemorate the occasion.