Local coach gets national honor
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 11:35

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Fishell-Shaffer named national coach of the year

by Bill Gates

The best field hockey season in Sparrows Point High history received another accolade for the scrapbook when coach Ashly Fishell-Shaffer was selected as the Coach of the Year.
    For the entire country.
    A national field hockey website based in Washington, D.C., TopOfTheCircle.com, announced Fishell-Shaffer as the United States Field Hockey Coach of the Year last week.
    Fishell-Shaffer was chosen from a field of 12 nominees for the honor.
    “I seem to be one of those people who have all the luck,” Fishell-Shaffer said. “I am very blessed to have someone outside of our circle notice the tremendous work our players have accomplished over the years.”
    She did find one thing missing from the story posted on the web site (http://www.topofthecircle.com/LISTuscoy12.html): mention of her assistant coach, George Scheulen.
    “Our success would not have been possible without George Scheulen,” Fishell-Shaffer said. “I love the game, and he loves the kids, and together we have made a difference.”
    Fishell-Shaffer was honored after a season during which the Pointers finished 14-2, won the first playoff game in school history and the first regional title in school history before falling in the Maryland Class 1A state semifinals.
    “Ashly was one of the best hires I made at Sparrows Point,” said Pointer athletic director Russ Lingner, who credited Fishell-Shaffer’s high school coach, former Patapsco High AD Lori Powers, with recommending Ashly.
    “Ashly’s dedication and her way with young people has turned the Sparrows Point field hockey program into one of Baltimore County’s finest.”
    Sparrows Point dominated its regular-season opponents, losing only to Class 3A state power Hereford, and allowed one goal during the Class 1A North regional tournament.
    It was only the second field hockey regional title won by a Dundalk-area school (Patapsco won in 1978).
    “The fact of the matter is, Ashly coaches the dickens out of the kids all week and then encourages them to complete what they know how to do come game-time,” said Scheulen, who didn’t mind being excluded from the story.
    “I carry the water and yell when she gets tired,” Scheulen joked.
    “Ashly evaluated the players, designed practices to help them to improve, and let them go at it. She was never afraid to tell them if she was disappointed in their play, nor was she reticent to praise them when they deserved it.”
    TopOfTheCircle.com also highlighted Fishell-Shaffer’s field hockey background: she and her twin sister, Patapsco High coach Emily Krich, both played for Patapsco High.
    Their mother, Debra Fishell, is Emily’s assistant coach and a former player herself, while their aunt, Sharon Holtschneider, was on the U.S. National Team in 1975.
    Another aunt, Colleen Maggard, played for a national championship team at then-Essex Community College.
    The website lauded Fishell-Shaffer for running a summer day camp for elementary and middle school-aged children at Goucher College, and for her work in the theatre.
    “We couldn’t ask for a better coach,” said Sparrows Point senior Brittani LaFollette, who was named to the All-Baltimore County and All-State field hockey teams and was The Eagle’s Fall Athlete of the Season.
    “She taught us how to believe in ourselves and that we were not just teammates, but a family,” LaFollette said. “The team and I would not have accomplished all of our field hockey dreams without her behind us.”
    Fishell-Shaffer helped LaFollette achieve the highest Girl Scout honor, being her advisor for the Gold Award “Sports are More Fun with a Stick” during a year in which Fishell-Shaffer was pregnant, working on her master’s degree and directing Camp Bravo.
    “I personally was lucky to have coach Ashly for all four years of my high school career,” LaFollette said. “When I get older and become a coach, I want to be just like her.”