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Banquet Concludes Liberty Field Hockey's Inaugural Season
The Liberty field hockey program put the final touch on its inaugural season last weekend, as coaches, support staff, student-athletes and their families attended the program's first ever year-end banquet.
"The banquet represented the culmination of a great first year," remarked first-year head coach Jodi Murphy, who led the Lady Flames to six victories last fall.
With student-athletes still facing a rigorous offseason schedule during the spring, Murphy felt that holding the banquet toward the end of the spring semester presented multiple benefits.
"It offered us some time to step away from the season and digest everything that happened through the course of the year. It also allowed us an opportunity to bring back some of the seniors who had been busy throughout this last semester of their senior year."
Organized by assistant coach Tilly Brampton, the banquet allowed attendees to show their support for the program's first season, while also reflecting on the year's highlights through multiple presentations. Assistant coach Jacki Raithel combined both video and photographs for a memorable recap of the inaugural season, spanning from pre-season and into the spring.
Following dinner, student-athletes handed out "paper-plate awards," Murphy recognized the contributions of the team's three seniors, and team captain Ann Jefferis expressed the team's appreciation for the coaching staff by stepping in and sharing a few words.
"I was really pleased with how it all turned out," Murphy commented. "It was a great opportunity for fellowship and it's a tradition we hope to keep from year to year."
The banquet capped off a full day of field hockey events, after the program hosted its first playday to conclude the spring season.
With smaller numbers due to graduating seniors and a couple student-athletes turning their focus to the lacrosse season, Murphy considered the spring season a great success for the program.
"We were left with slim numbers, but we ended up being thankful for that because it proved to be good grounds for sharpening our fundamental skills," reported Murphy. "The girls got a lot of individual attention and it was a time where we really tried to find some new leaders among the group. We definitely have girls now that know how to compete and how to challenge their teammates to get better."
After a lot of conditioning, training and focus, the improvements have been displayed in the team's latest practices in addition to the team's final playday.
"Having come to the last week of the season and seeing how much smarter field hockey players we've become over the last three months has been really exciting to see," Murphy expressed. "I really feel that our playday was the best hockey we played all year. We have worked hard all season to hone in our style of play and when we brought everyone in for this playday, we got to show what Liberty field hockey is all about."
While the team also competed against expected top 20 programs for next season and future NorPac opponents, Murphy was also most pleased with the final playday because the program was able to display its complete home on Campus East.
After the coaching staff relocated from the Luurtsema Center to the Campus East Field House, Liberty field hockey now has all it needs in one location.
"I cannot say enough about this facility and what it means to our program," stated Murphy. "There are few programs that have the luxury of having a locker room, a team room and a training room just steps away from your field."
After a year of setting a strong foundation on and off the field for the program, Murphy feels that the facility will have multiple benefits for Liberty field hockey in the future.
"It's going to be a great recruiting tool. There is so much we can do from this site, and I think it is going to set us up for some great competition. When teams come in, I think they are going to want to return here to play. I also think it is going to be a wonderful site to host tournaments in the future."