I am here to speak about Nancy Cole who was and continues to be extremely dear to me. This is going to be an emotional speech for me as Coach Cole passed away last week.
I’ve had the honor of having coach Cole as my coach, and then being her assistant coach but most importantly as a very dear friend.
Nancy Cole was respected by many for not only being the winningest fh coach in NY state but her fight for equality for women’s sports.
Coach Cole was a lifelong athlete and passionate field hockey coach. She taught physical education and coached at Centereach for 30+ years and coached at Ward Melville High Schools for 7 years.
She has coached numerous league, county, Long Island Championships and six state championships teams . Her programs produced 4 high school and 15 collegiate All-Americans, one previous US Olympian(Tracey Fuchs a Centereach graduate) and a couple of players currently on the national team. She also has coached numerous high school and college coaches. She has been recognized for her outstanding coaching, receiving accolades by being inducted into the National Field Hockey Association Hall of Fame, National High Schools HOF, State Public High Schools HOF and Suffolk county sports hall of fame.
After Coach Cole retired from Centereach the Scfhca created an award to recognize student athletes that characterized everything she embodied:
- Demonstrate a love and passion for the game
- Be a dedicated and committed student.
- Be humble, yet confident in her abilities
- Be an outstanding TEAM player, a leader by example, loyal to her coaches and to her teammates.
- Make everyone around her better, both on and off the field.
- Be respected by both teammates AND opponents
A long-time supporter of Title IX, she was a passionate advocate for equality for women’s sports. From playing a 3 game season during her high school career to coaching a 25 game season, she saw the progress that title ix afforded female athletes. She saw how female athletes were finally able to experience the benefits that male athletes had been enjoying for so long.
Later you will hear from Nikki and Christina, 2 decorated lacrosse players. They might not have experienced their high school success as well as the opportunity to play in college if not for coach Cole. I’m sure they have no idea that many years ago coach Cole and then-tennis coach Donna Cooke successfully lobbied the district to add girls lacrosse, soccer and ninth grade basketball teams.
The girls team room the female athletes use today is there because of her formal title ix complaint filed in May of 2000. She took a tremendous amount of heat for filing this complaint but she knew it was worth it.
So many of her athletes as well as other female athletes have been provided with opportunities that would not have been possible if not for this landmark legislation. The scholarships we received and the doors that were opened for us are something that many take for granted. This is something she did smile about though, how far we have come experiencing things that she never had thanks in part to her hard work and tough stance.
Most feel Title IX Is the greatest thing that happened to women’s athletics, and it has helped powerfully change how society thinks of women and how women think of themselves.
For me and countless other players of her’s, Coach Cole was legendary for her ability to make her players better. No matter what year, no matter whether the team was blue or green, no matter what the makeup of the team, she was able to get her teams to work together like few others. One of her favorite quotes was “You should live the journey. You should live it right. You should live it together. You should live it shared. You should try to make one another better. It’s all about the journey. ”
Our unofficial mascot of our field hockey team here at Centereach were Ants. The logo was on everything we had. Why?
The principle is that a single ant cannot do very much by itself; it can often get squashed underfoot if separated from its colony. However, a whole colony of ants working together as a team can do great things. Coach always got us to do great things.
This was how she felt about title IX. In unity there is strength and female athletes deserve to reap the rewards of their hard work.
Coach was that coach that every player wishes they could have. The one who made you want to play better, taught you to live in the moment, the zen way.
Coach Cole was not only a coach of sport, but of life. She taught us that today is the only guarantee you get. She would tell us many times “Live life with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived. Be present, be attentive, be compassionate. Do things honestly and whole heartedly. Don’t become anything. Be what you are.”
One player used the quote “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Coach Cole you are a legend and your players will make sure your legacy as a coach and an advocate of equality for women’s sports will never die.