Husky History: Melissa Gonzalez

Illustration of UConn alum Melissa Gonzalez. This Husky History revolves around former UConn standout Melissa Gonzalez. Illustration by Haleigh Schmidt/The Daily Campus

Welcome back to this week’s edition of Husky History, a column that highlights the accomplishments of a former UConn athlete at the professional level and beyond. 

This week features Melissa Gonzalez, a former UConn field hockey star whose shelves are filled with trophies and accolades. 

A native of Cortlandt, New York, Gonzalez was born on Jan. 24, 1989. She attended Lakeland High School, where she led their field hockey team to two state championships. 

At Lakeland, Gonzalez established herself as one of the most dominant field hockey players in the country. Earning All-American honors in her junior and senior seasons, Gonzalez broke team records in goals and assists. 

Gonzalez’s four years at UConn were nothing short of spectacular as well. Arriving on campus in the fall of 2007, Gonzalez made her name known. She started all 25 games as a freshman, the only time that’s been done in Husky history, and tallied nine goals and four assists. 

Gonzalez found herself placed No. 10 on the Big East scoring list, scoring a goal in the first round of the NCAA tournament against UMass on Nov. 10 of the same year. 

With a year of championship experience under her belt, the sophomore took a huge leap in 2008. Posting 10 goals, four assists and 24 points, Gonzalez was honored with All-Big East First Team and All-Mideast Region First Team selections and was also voted to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American Third Team. 

Gonzalez shined bright in 2008. After leading the U.S. team in the Pan American Games to a gold medal finish, Gonzalez was featured on Sports Illustrated’s ‘Faces in the Crowd’ section, a popular segment that highlights amateur athletes. 

Gonzalez’s first NFHCA All-American First Team honor was bestowed in 2009 after starting all 22 games, posting six goals and two assists. Her defense was on full display all season, earning herself her first Big-East Defensive Player of the Year honor.  

Gonzalez’s next year was full of accolades. Adding a second NFHCA All-American First Team honor and repeating as the Big-East Defensive Player of the Year, the senior was named the NFHCA Mideast Region Player of the Year. 

For her play in the 2010 season, Gonzalez was named a finalist for the Honda Sports Award. The award recognizes female athletes in their respective sports for athletic, academic and community leadership successes.  

Following her collegiate career, Gonzalez didn’t stray from the sport. She graduated from UConn in 2011 with a degree in coaching and administration, and subsequently worked as volunteer assistant coach at Yale in 2012, helping coach three athletes to All-Ivy League honors. 

After working as the volunteer assistant at the University of Massachusetts in 2014-2015, Gonzalez transitioned to the coaching staff at Wake Forest University where she was promoted from assistant coach to her first associate coaching position in 2020. 

At Wake Forest, Gonzalez showcased her ability to lead a talented field hockey squad. During four seasons, Wake Forest consistently ranked in the top 25 NFHCA poll, peaking at No. 11 in the 2021 preseason poll. 

Gonzalez coached three different athletes to All-American status in her four seasons at Wake Forest, one of them a multiple time selection.  

After the success with the Demon Deacons, Gonzalez made her way back to where her coaching career began. Gonzalez was hired to become Yale’s next head coach in January 2022. 

In her limited time as the Bulldogs head coach, Gonzalez led the team to nine wins in 2022 with three All-Ivy League honors, one NFHCA All-Region athlete and one All-ECAC athlete. 

Emphasizing the importance of the classroom, the Bulldogs, under the guidance of Gonzalez, were selected to the NFCHA’s National Academic Team. The award honors teams who earned a total team grade-point average of 3.5 or higher during the fall semester.  

The defining factor of UConn athletes is their ability to excel on the international stage. Gonzalez also made her mark as a member of Team USA at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.  

At the 2012 London Olympics, Gonzalez helped the team secure a 12th place finish. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Gonzalez and Team USA saw improvements with a fifth-place finish. 

Continuing her coaching career at Yale, Gonzalez has left deep roots in the UConn field hockey program that gives the next generation of athletes a goal to strive for.   

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