Dec. 8, 2022 — An appreciation: Karen Shelton, head coach, College of North Carolina


One in an occasional collection.

If you attempt to sum up in phrases what Karen Shelton, who introduced her retirement from the College of North Carolina yesterday, means to the game, the place do you begin?

Do you begin with the army brat who didn’t choose up a subject hockey stick till her household moved to Pennsylvania in center college?

Do you begin with the athlete who, just a few years later, received three nationwide Participant of the 12 months awards for West Chester College, a mark that may not be equaled till 2021?

Do you begin with the sphere hockey participant who proudly accepted a medal from President Carter in 1980 at a Rose Backyard ceremony regardless of sentiment towards the Western boycott of the Moscow Olympics?

Do you begin with the devoted participant who educated for 4 years to play within the Los Angeles Olympics, profitable bronze?

Do you begin with the younger lady who took a flyer on teaching in 1981 whereas remaining an elite athlete, taking time away from campus to play in numerous FIH world-level occasions?

Do you begin with the coach who helped develop the sport within the better Analysis Triangle space of North Carolina, making a public-school league that grew right into a sanctioned state championship?

Do you begin with the coach who actually got here into her personal profitable three straight nationwide championships from 1995 to 1997?

Do you begin with the coach who ran the desk within the decade of the 2010s, making the Ultimate 4 each single time?

Do you begin with the 4 nationwide championships within the final 5 years within the Erin Matson Period?

Do you begin with the report 10 NCAA Division I championships, beating a Beth Anders report thought as soon as to be untouchable?

Do you begin along with her 745 collegiate victories, most all time in Division I?

Or maybe do you begin with the truth that the sphere hockey workforce’s present facility is called for her?

For Karen Shelton, let’s simply say this in the case of her main influence. She made the complete American subject hockey group pivot away from the sport’s aggressive roots in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and pointed it in the direction of Southern faculties resembling North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, Wake Forest, and Louisville.

She additionally was capable of recruit higher and smarter than a lot of her colleagues. She not solely introduced in gamers who had been sturdy statistically, but additionally had been capable of get gamers with a excessive degree of ability and health which matched her personal as a participant.

Shelton completed off her forty second season as head coach with a beginning eleven which encompassed an nearly Dream Group-type of mystique. Gamers like Erin Marson, Meredith Sholder, Ashley Sessa, Paityn Wirth, and Ryleigh Heck had been formidable and proved to be unbeatable over a troublesome season.

And the season ended with a 2-1 win over defending nationwide champion Northwestern. It was an unprecedented 4 championships in 5 years, which is spectacular contemplating the entire obstacles thrown in entrance of the workforce due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the truth that each workforce on UNC’s schedule was giving the Tar Heels their greatest recreation each day trip.

Amazingly, Carolina went 99-8 within the final 5 years with Matson, the U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce ahead, on the roster. It’s a purple patch of kind we could by no means see once more.

It’s after these 5 superb years, the place you end the narrative of Karen Shelton’s profession.

And what a profession it was.



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