South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Field hockey program a real success story

Willie tapped as head coach of Oakville field hockey team

After being cut from the soccer team 13 years ago, Oakville High School freshman Carrie Lampe decided if she couldn’t play that sport, she would find one of her own — field hockey.

Driven and determined by her passion for athletics, Lampe began speaking to administrators and was told they would help her if she could find a coach and at least 50 girls, who had to be freshmen and sophomores to ensure that the program would continue.

The Oakville girls’ field hockey team began competing when Lampe was a sophomore. She played on the squad for three years, went to college and then coached the team for four years after she returned from college. Her last season as head coach was last fall.

As of this fall, the Oakville girls’ field hockey team is a fully sponsored district program with the same status as softball, football, basketball and other major sports.

The district has provided a field and met the legal requirements to make the field hockey team eligible to play in Missouri State High School Athletics Association, or MHSHAA, contests for the past 11 years, with support getting progressively better, according to Athletics Director Becky Czuppon. Czuppon is excited about the outcome of the long journey now that the program is fully sponsored by the district.

“We have spent the last year and a half discussing the budgetary, transportation and facility concerns versus the positive opportunity for the students,” she told the Call. “We finally were able to come to a decision and provide the program with the similar funding our other sports get. It is a great thing for these athletes.”

Lampe, who now teaches at Rockwood Summit High School, said the journey of the past 13 years is hard to believe. Know-ing that the 2013 season would be her last at Oakville, she made it her personal mission to obtain the support from the district to ensure that the program would be in good hands.

“This is crazy. I never really imagined as a freshman in high school that I would be sitting here … 13 years later, you know, talking about how it finally came to fruition,” she said. “That first year that we started, we didn’t really think it was going to go anywhere.

“It was just a fun thing to do, you know, 50 girls. And after that, once we started competing it was like, ‘Oh my gosh. We could actually become a team. This could actually happen for us.'”

Lampe admits to being somewhat frustrated over the years in attempting to have the district sanction the program.

“… We keep talking to people and we keep getting turned down, so when we finally found out we were approved to be school-sponsored, it was kind of shocking — like this has finally happened. It was kind of a relief really,” she said.

MHSHAA considers field hockey to be an emerging sport with roughly 30 teams playing statewide. Because fewer than 50 teams are playing throughout Missouri, MHSHAA does not sponsor a district or state championship postseason tournament.

Lampe’s decision to make field hockey her sport came to her in an unexpected way, while she was playing one of her original sports.

“Well, it’s pretty close to soccer. And I actually remember playing a tennis match in Clayton, and there was a team playing field hockey on the field close to the tennis courts … I had never seen it before, and I remembered, ‘What is that? It looks really interesting,'” she recalled.

“… After I was cut from soccer, (it) just kind of stuck in my head that it would be cool to learn how to play that,” she said. “…I just want to play a sport, and it looks competitive and fun.”

After finding a coach and 50 girls, Lampe still had yet to actually play field hockey.

“… I went out to the soccer park in Fenton. I stood next to Jackie Neeley, who became the coach, as she was ‘reffing’ a game (and) she taught me all about it … After 20 minutes of that, they gave me a stick and said, ‘Here you go. Go play,’ and I loved it …”

The torch now has been passed along to new head coach Denise Willie, who hopes her girls will continue to play with integrity.

“I expect them to show character on the field and off the field,” she said.

Oakville currently is 1-2 on the season and the team is looking for continued im-provement as the season progresses.

“I hope we do well, and I hope we are successful,” Willie said. “… I hope we win at least half of our games, if not more.”

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