The most successful coach no one talks about, Nancy Stevens

UConn field hockey coach Nancy Stevens is well accomplished to say the least. She’s up there with the likes of Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun as one of the greatest coaches to ever coach at UConn. So why doesn’t anyone talk about her?

Stevens is the most successful coach in collegiate field hockey history, compiling a 639-181-24 record – a .771 winning percentage in her nearly 40 years of coaching. She won back-to-back national titles with the Huskies in 2013 and 2014, and has reached the Final Four in five of the last six years. As a player, she won a national title in college and played for Team USA on an international level. Oh, and she’s also in the NFHCA Hall of Fame.

Stevens is not afraid to talk about her longevity in the sport, featuring coaching stints at both Northwestern and here in Storrs after a collegiate career as a player at Westchester University.

“When I started to play, we had to clear the dinosaurs off the field. I always tell my players that during my spring break there was a land mass between Alaska and Russia,” Stevens said with a laugh. “Fortunately I’ve coached great players at both Northwestern and Connecticut, and we’ve won a lot of games. I’m fortunate to be a part of that.”

Stevens has also been involved in the Olympics. She was a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee that reviewed possible future Olympic sports and also served on the Athletes Advisory Council.

Between the field hockey and women’s basketball team’s consistent success, women’s programs are some of UConn’s most successful teams. Stevens explained what it meant for women’s teams to be leading the way in Storrs.

“It’s great. I have to say when we bring recruits to women’s basketball games, and there are 10,000 people cheering and being so passionate, it really does impress our recruits,” Stevens said. “They want to be part of that culture where women’s athletics is valued. To bring them to women’s basketball and to see the type of recognition and value (the fans) provide, I think it’s inspirational.”

The success of the Huskies reaches beyond the campus. As the field hockey team continues its reign of dominance, the game continues to grow in Connecticut.

“We have a good outreach to get middle school and high school players here, or Girl Scout troops,” Stevens said. “I think the state of Connecticut is proud of the field hockey team here at UConn. People know about our success, and that helps grow the sport.”

Stevens recounted some of her favorite memories at UConn through her nearly three decades at the helm. She seemed proud of not only the players she had, but also the people they have become in their time since playing for the Huskies.

“For any coach it’s the players you get to work with. It’s a great university and we get to recruit really good students,” Stevens said. “When you get to recruit accomplished young women, they bring a lot of experience, they’re fun to coach, they’re intellectually curious and they give back. The best part of this is having these relationships that you treasure. We’ve just had great players here.”
 


Connor Donahue is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering men’s ice hockey. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.