Continuing Excellence: Hockaday Women's Lacrosse wins third SPC State Title in four seasons
Hockaday athletes have been building quite the legacy for the athletics department over the course of a few years. Most recently, the Daisies Lacrosse team won the 2022 SPC Lacrosse State Championship in an exciting matchup to mark their third state title (2018, 2021, 2022) under the same head coach- Molly Ford Hutchinson. VYPE DFW was given the opportunity to interview Coach Hutchinson and some of the athletes following their title victory!
To read the interview, become a VYPE Insider today!
History of Excellence
The Hockaday Daisies Lacrosse team has made state appearances all six years that Coach Hutchinson has been at the reigns. While some might think keeping a team focused on a common goal throughout the off-season, coach Hutchinson believes that one of the main reasons the athletes remain in focus even through the off-season is that the majority of them are multiple-sport athletes. "Many of our athletes are multi-sport athletes which gives them the opportunity to play other sports, develop a field sense, hand-eye coordination, and a deeper IQ of team sports," Hutchinson said. "We start mid-February so the season is quick for us and the girls are focused the entire season. The coaching staff and team have an expectation to be playing in the SPC and State Finals every year."
With high expectations, the mantra of "We Are One," and the drive to be great, the team has been able to post several successful seasons. Many people might wonder what has been the secret for Hockaday Women's Lacrosse. "We meshed really well on and off the field," said Hutchinson. "You can feel the camaraderie and energy every day at practice. We also had depth on our bench. We run two midfield lines which keeps us fresh throughout the game. We also had freshman that were big contributors to the team."
Hutchinson acknowledged that the freshman class made big plays throughout the season, but also added that the senior class was extremely special. "[The seniors] were selfless and wanted what was best for the team," Hutchinson started. "We had one of the top players in Texas on our team- Minje Kwun. She has dominated for the last three seasons and has made a significant impact on the program. Landry Grover was a workhorse in the midfield for us and our defensive backbone. She will be heading to Denver next season. Anna Gum, will also be heading to play in college at Hamilton. She is our ground ball queen and was always a consistent player for us."
VYPE was given the opportunity to talk to two of those seniors (Grover and Kwun) before she focuses on the next chapter in her career. "Wearing the Hockaday jersey is one of the best parts of stepping on the field," Grover told VYPE. "It means playing for a school that really cares about female success in sports and a coach that pushes us to exceed the Texas Lacrosse standard. That is was Hockaday Lacrosse is all about. I'm very proud to call myself a Daisy."
Kwun went on to add her feelings about playing for Hockaday: "Our coaches- Coach Molly, Coach Morgan, and Coach Posie are the most thoughtful and intelligent people, so I feel very lucky to have learned from them. Also, our athletic director- Coach Surgi- and Hockaday athletics truly cares for each student-athlete, so it was amazing to represent the program."
Making Memories through Big Accomplishments
Any coach or athlete will tell you that with each season comes new goals, new accomplishments, and new memories. For coach Hutchinson, some of her favorite memories come from state title victories. However, if you were to ask her what some of her favorite memories have been outside of winning championships, it comes down to using time to bond with the team even on trips while contributing to their winning record. "Our California spring break trip [was a favorite memory from this season]," Hutchinson told VYPE. "We played Torrey Pines, La Jolla, and Coronado. This was great momentum for us heading into the second half of the season."
The little moments have truly paid off in big moments and the way the team has battled through each moment has shown a lot of growth for the Hockaday Daisies. With growth comes the ability to accomplish huge things on and off the field. "The seniors had never won a SPC Championship and that was huge for them," Hutchinson said in regards to what she felt was one of the biggest accomplishments on the season. Aside from winning state, though, Hutchinson believes another big accomplishment came on the California spring break trip where the team was able to go 3-0 out of state at the beginning of the season.
"I knew this team was going to be very special," Hutchinson told VYPE. "After winning in 2021 with a very good team, adding eight impactful freshman to the mix, plus the growth of our veterans was going to make this team even deeper."
The Weight of State
Each athlete has a goal in mind when they step onto the field before each game. For the Daisies, winning SPC state has meant a great deal for the athletes on the team. Kwun talked a little bit about what winning meant to her. "Winning state this year has been one of my favorite memories of my life so far. Playing with my teammates for one last time and making our coaches and Hockaday proud was the best feeling ever."
"Winning state definitely gives you the title of being the best in Texas, but for me it really just celebrates the amound of work we put in during the season and allows us to put Hockaday lacrosse on the map," Grover added.
Freshman Mae Flanagan also spoke about what winning state has meant for her. "It's super special, especially with this team, because we are definitely like a family. After all the hard work we put in all season, it was the perfect close. I think it also set a precedent for our next three seasons and will be our motivation to do the same next year."
Sophomore Riley Damonte added her emotions about winning state: "To me, winning state reflects the team's hard work that was put into this season. All the practices that ran long and infinite hundreds led us to this moment. It feels like a well-deserved title for all the work we put in."
In The Zone
To win state, athletes have to be focused as well as have a common goal. Kwun, Grover, Flanagan, and NAME outlined what the tone of the entire state game was like for VYPE:
"Our coaches set the tone before the tournament began," Kwun told VYPE. "They told us to play smart, support each other, and to never change our game plan based on our opponent. I believe we maintained this tone through the weekend during the semifinal and championship games."
Staying focused was a key part in winning state, according to Grover. "We really just focused on playing Hockaday lacrosse. We knew we had all of the tools to succeed, but we had to go out in the tournament with the mentality to get points up on the board and to not let our opponent get close to us. We like to use the phrase 'PTM' which means 'pedal to the metal' as well as 'protect the meadow' and that's what we did throughout our season."
"In our game against Flower Mound, we let them come back a bit at the end. During the championship game, I think we raised our intensity towards the end to prevent the same thing from happening. Our mindset coming in was to play Hockaday lacrosse and if we played our game, we would come out with the win. I think we ended up playing one of the most cohesive games of the season. Everyone on the field felt confident and supported by their teammates. The only thing we adjusted were our draws- we used different draw takers and sent the ball to various spots to gain possession throughout the game," Flanagan told VYPE about the tone throughout the state tournament.
Damonte also spoke about the tone on the field. "Going into the game, the whole team was very excited and ready. That energy translated right onto the field. During the game, we all remained very positive and continued to support each other as that was something we had been working on for the entire season. Some of my favorite memories this season were right after goals were scored and I think that speaks to our positive tone on the field. I think it's important to remind your teammates to stay positive because if they do, it has a direct impact on their game."
The direct impact Damonte speaks of is evident in such a strong team who not only is strong enough to win championships, but also to forge bonds with each other that are not easily shaken nor broken.
Learning from the Athletes
As much as athletes learn from their coaches, any good coach will tell you that their athletes have a fair share of lessons that they- in turn- teach the coaches. For Hutchinson, that lesson has been about hard work. "Hard work pays off; working on your craft is key to being successful and the best player on the field. They have taught me that this concept is not dead."
After the seniors had their chance to outline what playing for Hockaday has meant for them, Flanagan and Damonte were given the chance to tell VYPE what donning the Hockaday jersey means to them as athletes who will be reutning to the field:
"Playing for Hockaday is about so much more than just lacrosse," Damonte told VYPE. "It has allowed me to make amazing friends who I love spending time with and who I really treasure. Hockaday Lacrosse is more than just a team, we are a family and there is not one person on the team who I dislike. Additionally, playing for Hockaday allows me to play with the best players in Texas which is so amazing because every day I push myself to compete with my teammates."
"I think the whole team agrees that we would all not be where we are without the Hockaday coaching staff and Lacrosse program," Flanagan started. "They are the best coaches anyone could ask for. My family has a long history at Hockaday, so representing them while playing lacrosse has been the highlight of my year."
Focusing on What's To Come
The off-season is a time to sharpen skills. Since the team is comprised of many athletes who continue to play outside of the school's team, Hutchinson is confident that they will keep their skills topnotch for next season. "Many of our players play club lacrosse so they continue to keep their sticks in their hand. They are also dedicated to off season training in the weight room which makes a huge difference. We also have athletes that are playing other sports outside of lacrosse which helps us build an all around athlete.