Hello all, and welcome back to Husky History, a new column focusing on one accomplished UConn athlete per week. Each article should detail the athlete’s accolades at Connecticut, as well as their ability to take their games to the professional level.
This week’s Husky History focuses on field hockey legend Tracey Fuchs. While many know her now to be head coach of the defending NCAA Champion Northwestern, her roots run right through Connecticut along her journey to the top.
Fuchs grew up the second-youngest of four sisters in Long Island, New York. She was a die-hard New York Rangers fan, transitioning from love for ice hockey, to street hockey with the neighbors to field hockey for her school. Her sisters shared that same passion, as all played high school field hockey at Centereach High School for National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Famer Nancy Cole. While they all weren’t in high school at the same time, each of the Fuchs girls were captains of the team during their tenures.
Looking up to older sister Lauren, Fuchs decided to follow in her footsteps and join the future powerhouse that was brewing with coach Diane Wright at the University of Connecticut. Lauren, an All-American in her own right, graduated in 1981 from UConn but decided to stay on the staff as an assistant coach, reuniting with Tracey when she arrived in Storrs in 1984.
By this point, the Huskies had solidified themselves as a prominent collegiate program, winning the national title in 1981 while falling to Old Dominion in the championship game in both 1982 and 1983. Her freshman year, Fuchs helped her squad reach the Final Four, where they lost yet again to the Monarchs. Fuchs made her contributions to this team’s overall successes though, as she scored the game-winning goal in the first round of NCAAs against UMass.
It was 1985 when Fuchs really broke through, despite the program losing four All-American talents. The Huskies finished the regular season 16-2 with a loss to Penn State in their finale. In a standstill opening first round against Maryland, it was the sophomore who broke through for UConn, scoring the first goal of the game with less than five minutes to play. The second round against Boston University was just as stressful, as the team squeezed by with a 2-1 victory. Backed by two assists from Fuchs, the Huskies were able to exorcize their demons by defeating the Monarchs in the national final to clinch the program’s second title. Fuchs and three other Huskies were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The team saw successes to lesser extents after the 1985 title, falling in the first round of NCAAs in 1986 to New Hampshire and failing to make the tournament in 1987. Despite this, Fuchs still saw plenty of personal successes, earning three All-American nods over her last three years and being named a finalist for the Honda Broderick Award twice, given to the nation’s top field hockey player. She took home that trophy her senior year.
While graduating with a degree in sports management and marketing in 1988, Fuchs qualified for the U.S. Field Hockey team and was able to compete in the Olympics that year in Seoul, South Korea. The team finished in last, but it was a rewarding experience.
“Being in the ‘88 Olympics in Seoul was awesome looking back at it now,” said Fuchs back in 1995. “I was only 20 then. I was one of the last chosen, but it didn’t matter. I’d always dreamed of going to the Olympics, since I was real young.”
The journey to Seoul was only the start of her Olympic career. She was a 17-year member of the national team, serving as team captain for an astonishing 14 seasons. She has more international appearances than any other U.S. field hockey athlete with 268. At the top of her game, Fuchs took home the USA Field Hockey Athlete of the Year Award twice, in 1990 and 1993. Over her span, she accumulated 69 career goals.
Fuchs transitioned from Team USA captain to a coaching role quite easily, spending time in coaching roles at UConn and Michigan, where both teams saw massive successes. When she joined Michigan as the associate head coach, the program had never made the NCAA Tournament. By 2008, the program won three Big Ten Championships and one National Championship under Fuchs. Due to these victories, in 2009 she landed the role of head coach of the Northwestern Wildcats, a position she still holds.
In her first season as skipper, Fuchs made a remarkable impact. The team had its best record since 1985 with 12 wins and came two goals shy of their single-season mark. Two years later, with a gauntlet of a schedule, Northwestern took home four wins over top-20 teams. The culmination of her hard work came to fruition this past year, when the Wildcats took home the national championship. The now-No. 1 ranked Northwestern squad is at the top of the collegiate field hockey charts and is set to defend their title.
Recently, it was announced that Fuchs was named an assistant coach on the U.S. Senior Women’s National Team as well, a job conducted outside of the Northwestern season. She continues to give back to the game that gave her such joy as a child. For her efforts, she was inducted into the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014. After accomplishing almost everything that U.S. field hockey has to offer, Fuchs is showing no signs of stopping her involvement in the game she loves.