CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. — Playing during the summer is always great preparation for getting ready for the fall, as Somers does in the Hudson Valley Summer Field Hockey League, which is held at Walter Panas High School.
That especially holds true when one has a first-year coach, which the Tuskers do in Marq Mellor, who displayed so much passion up and down the sideline in the Tuskers’ 5-0 win against Briarcliff on July 5, one would’ve thought he was coaching in a sectional final.
“It’s extremely helpful to get to know the girls because these are unofficial practices,” Mellor said. “It’s an opportunity to see the girls play, build a rapport with them before you get to the preseason. Fortunately, I already know some of the girls because there are four of them who play in the travel league that I coach in.”
While Mellor is in his first year at Somers, he is no stranger to the game of field hockey, as the sport is simply in his blood.
Included in his vast array of field-hockey experience is going against Lakeland coach Sharon Sarsen, who is the founder of the HVSFL and whose Hornets have won the last eight Class B state titles.
“I have a long history of a field-hockey background,” Mellor said. “I coached against Sharon Sarsen back in the ’90s when I was at Mamaroneck and Bronxville. I played on the U.S. team for 10 years, including the Olympics in ’96 and then I took about 15 years off of field hockey to go back and watch my kids.”
That just scratches the surface of what Mellor has accomplished in the game of field hockey.
He played on the United States Men’s National team from 1988-1997 and was its captain from 1993-1996. He was a two-time bronze medalist at the Pan American Games in 1991 and 1995.
Mellor, who is a coach at the FC United Field Hockey Club, was also the 1988 Player of the Year in the U.S. Field Hockey Program and a three-time National Club Champion for the Rye Field Hockey Club.
“Field hockey was always considered a second tier or a third-tier sport. When I first started coaching, it was considered the ‘girls sport’ and when I was playing, it got very little respect,” Mellor said. “It’s great to see how it’s evolved over the last 25 years. It’s been tremendous.”
Rosalie Murphy, a rising junior center midfielder for the Tuskers, said that Mellor has made an immediate impact on the program.
“We’ve all become a lot closer as a team,” Murphy said. “We were able to be so successful tonight because we all get along great and our new coach has been a really great help. He works us really hard because there’s no point in coming out here unless we are going to give 110 percent so that’s what he makes us do and that’s why it went so well for us.”
It especially went well for Murphy, who recorded four goals and also assisted on Elizabeth Olsen’s goal, the first one of the game, registered in the opening half against the Bears.
“It felt really good to score four goals,” Murphy said. “Some were definitely better than others because with a goalie some probably wouldn’t have gotten in. I remember my first two goals my coach said, ‘Rosie, those were terrible, you need to bring those up from a three to a 10.’ My last two were a lot harder, stronger and they felt more meaningful to me.”
Somers (2-0) started its HVSFL season with a 6-2 triumph against Yorktown White on July 3, led by Sheridan DeVito (2G, 1A), Emma Kittredge (2G), Murphy (1G, 1A) and Georgie Bambach (1G).
“Coach’s passion and energy are his two main things,” Murphy said. “For us every single time we play in front of him now it’s like a new tryout because we’ve never been with him before so I think that brings up our energy a lot because we are trying to prove ourselves to him.”