Learning to Lean on Each Other

On October 19, the DSHA Varsity Field Hockey Team won the Wisconsin High School Field Hockey Association State Championship— for the first time in the 16 seasons the sport has existed at DSHA, co-head coached by Quinn Loucks and Sue Walline. After two scoreless overtimes and a shootout to decide the state champion, DSHA came up victorious against Arrowhead.
Arrowhead claimed the first goal of the state championship game this October. A few minutes later, DSHA took a timeout.
Jordan (Bonk, DSHA ‘21), our center back, walks up and says, ‘Do not be bummed,’” said Co-Varsity Field Hockey Coach, English Faculty, and Instructional Technology Coordinator Quinn Loucks. “It was this care-free attitude and Jordan, interestingly as a center back who all the pressure was on, knew that we got this.”
After earning the fourth seed out of five teams, with a record of 6-6 in conference and 12-6-2 overall, the DSHA Varsity Field Hockey Team defeated University Lake School in the first round of the final tournament, 6-0. They then knocked out first-seeded Brookfield Academy 1-0. The state championship against Arrowhead was tied 1-1 in regulation with the goal by Mack Doerr, DSHA ‘23; assisted by Maddie Kellner, DSHA ‘21. They then went into two scoreless overtimes and ended in a five-deep shootout. Bonk sank the last attempt to claim the victory for DSHA.
“Thinking that we were the first ones (in school history) to do that—it was such a good feeling,” said captain Miah Otto, DSHA ‘20. “Our team was really close. We all love each other and we love our team. It was such a good moment.”
But the team didn’t mesh right away, especially on the field.
“They weren’t jelling,” said Loucks. “Team-wise, we didn’t know what to do. We changed how we played after two weeks. It took us a while to figure it out.”
What they had to fine-tune was their passing. “When we pass, we’re better” became the team mantra for the season. The coaches started each game by saying, “When are we best?,” with the team responding, “When we’re passing!”
Part of the struggle was passing to new teammates. There were about a dozen new members on the varsity team.
“I had never played with half of the team,” said Otto. “We just had to figure it out and all get on the same page before we could really mesh together.”
And getting on the same page helped the team, to not only boost morale, but also gain wins on the field.
“In order to win, it required the whole team’s effort,” said Kellner. “Every single person had a job they needed to do. There was a lot of talent on the team, but it wasn’t just talent. It was using that talent to work together and really play the game as a team.”
“By the second half of the season, they didn’t look up and say, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t pass to her,’” Loucks said. “Even though we have our best players, those players would pass the ball off because they were confident in their teammates.”
Once the girls had built trust among themselves, the season became about having fun, while hopefully winning a few games in between.
“We had so much fun,” said Otto. “We definitely weren’t the most serious team. But that was the one thing that stood out. Compared to other teams, we really just had fun and wanted to win, but not do it by stressing out and tearing our teammates down. We built each other up and wanted to win, but have fun while doing it.”
Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Mulcahy, DSHA ‘21, saw a shift in focus as well.  
“At one point our goals changed from just focusing on winning to trying to have fun and trying to improve,” she said. “We hit a winning streak and we ended the season really strong. Everyone showed their positivity and cheered each other on more.”
During the regular season, the team played a triple round robin schedule, meaning they played the same teams three times. Despite earlier struggles against each of the three teams, where not all tactics worked to their advantage, DSHA went on a six-game winning streak—all the way to receiving the state trophy.
“The mere fact that they went on this winning streak shows a resilience, a grit,” said Loucks.  
As two of the four 2020 captains Kellner and Mulchay look ahead to next season, they hope to lead the team to state for a second year in a row. Mulcahy hopes to avoid the early season struggle to click as a team right away.
“I want us to get really close first, not just friend-wise, but playing together and being comfortable with each other,” she said. “I want to focus on comfort but also being productive and effective. I think we can win state again.”
But only with their fearless leaders by their side in both Loucks and Walline. “They inspire and lead the team by pushing us to reach our goals,” said Mulcahy. “Playing for them is challenging, but they push us to form one unit and work together to do our very best.”
“Mr. Loucks tried his best to find new ways for us to practice and new drills where we could really work on the skills we needed to while still having fun,” Otto said. “He made sure to let us know that we can win state in the end and be the first team at DSHA to do so.”
Loucks and Walline are already excited for next season, and perhaps another run at state.
“I don’t think they’ve played their best game yet,” Loucks said. “Next year, we’re going to have 14 returning players, including 12 juniors that are going to be seniors. We are going to have a huge experienced senior class that will be defending a title. That’s really cool. Next year is going to be really exciting.
“The sky is the limit.”
• 1st Team All-Conference: Jordan Bonk, DSHA ‘21; Maddie Kellner, DSHA ‘21; Kaitlyn Mulchay, DSHA ‘21
• 2nd Team All-Conference: Gracie Hecht, DSHA ‘21
• Honorable Mention: Mackenzie Doerr, DSHA ‘23; Ava Konopa, DSHA ‘21
    • The DSHA Varsity Field Hockey Team celebrated taking home the Wisconsin High School Field Hockey Association State Championship — for the first time in school history. Photo courtesy of Mark Frohna.

    • Gracie Hecht, DSHA '21, snagged a steal that led to the first half goal in the championship game. Photo Courtesy of Mark Frohna.


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