MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. – By any metric, Sharon Sarsen is one of the greatest high-school field-hockey coaches ever.
In her 38 years at Lakeland High School, she’s won 659 games against 73 losses and 40 draws (a winning percentage of 88). With streaks extending to present day, her Hornets teams have won 30 consecutive league titles, 20 consecutive section titles, and 13 New York State titles, including 10 of the last 11 (nine in a row from 2009 to 2017).
In recent years, her teams have become so dominant, so unbeatable, that simply drawing against Lakeland in a regular-season contest, as Horace Greeley did in 2019, results in a championship-like celebration by the opponent.
Some might wonder what secrets Sarsen has tucked away, but to hear her tell it, her vault is empty.
“My secrets? I have none,” Sarsen said. “I share, borrow, and am not afraid to try new things. I constantly stay involved with the game at every level every chance I get.”
Sarsen’s coaching excellence is not confined to just one sport. She is also the second-winningest varsity girls lacrosse coach in the state. She established the merged Lakeland/Panas team in 1986 and coached the Rebels until 2015, going 381-135-45. Her teams won 12 league titles and 10 section titles, and also finished as New York State semifinalists four times.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association will recognize her success in July, when she will be inducted into its Hall of Fame.
“I also have been very fortunate to coach in a supportive district/community that values athletics and the immense value it provides to our student-athletes,” Sarsen said. “Our families and student-athletes are hard-working and accomplished, both athletically and academically. They buy into the process and take all the opportunities that are presented to them. They are excited and enthusiastic. They are driven and have a plan.”
During her decades-long run, Lakeland has produced countless future leaders. Sarsen’s coaching staff is filled with some of them:
- Danielle Fiore (captain, 2003 state champion at Lakeland)
- Shannon Scavelli (captain, 2009, 2010, 2011 state champion at Lakeland; captain, 2016 Big 10 Medal of Honor recipient at University of Michigan)
- Leah DiSisto (2006 state champion)
“They all know what it means to play for Lakeland and the commitment required,” Sarsen said. “They help promote our team culture each and every day.”
After their decorated careers at Lakeland, many former Hornets have gone on to successful college careers at the Division 1 level.
“I think my 38 years of experience as varsity field hockey coach gives our players the confidence and direction to stay the course and be the best they can be, individually as well as team wise,” Sarsen said.
The former players we spoke with for this article agree.
Molly Fitzpatrick, a lacrosse All-American and three-time state champion in field hockey at Lakeland, continued her lacrosse career at Manhattan College, where she scored 135 goals in four years. She was also named three times to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s All-Academic Team.
“Sharon Sarsen not only shaped me into a better athlete and always pushed me to reach my fullest potential, she taught me life lessons to carry off the field, including being mentally tough and how to be a good teammate,” Fitzpatrick said.
“As an athlete who went on to play in college, I think Sarsen helped me reach that collegiate level and really helped grow my IQ in both field hockey and lacrosse,” she added. “I knew whenever she was hard on me, it was because she cared and wanted to see me get better. I think the lessons that stuck with me the most are things aren’t just handed to you, you have to work for what you want and put in the time and the effort to see those results.”
Brianna Muniz also played on Sarsen’s field hockey and lacrosse teams. In field hockey, Muniz was an All-State forward whose teams went 66-0 and won three state titles. She went on to play field hockey at Siena College.
“I would say that Coach Sarsen has had a big impact on my life,” Muniz said. “She doesn’t just coach kids in the game of field hockey, but she gives them an environment to learn and to grow as a person. I think that she is way more than just a coach. She cares about every one of her players and will do anything in her power to help them become the best player and person that they can be.”
At Siena, Muniz was National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I National Academic Squad.
“One lesson that has stuck with me the most is that everything is earned, and nothing is given,” Muniz said. “Coach Sarsen always told us to take things one game at a time and not to look ahead. I think that this is really important because you can’t just expect to win or perform well. You have to give one hundred percent in everything that you do to get the outcome that you want. This has helped me throughout high school and throughout my studies in college as well. I will forever be grateful to have learned the game of field hockey from such a successful coach, and for the lessons that she has taught me along the way.”
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is slated to take place in July in Lake Placid.
Sarsen has already been inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Hall of Fame and the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame. She is just one of just two coaches in the state to win the NFHCA National Coach of the Year.
On top of her varsity success, Sarsen has continued to give back to the field hockey community, coordinating the Shrub Oak Athletic Club field hockey program for grades 3-8, running early morning intramurals for middle schoolers before the school day, conducting summer camps, and chairing various field hockey and lacrosse associations. She is currently a physical education teacher and the athletic coordinator at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School.
Prior to her teaching and coaching career, Sarsen was a multi-sport star at John Jay (Cross River). She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cortland and a master’s degree from Long Island University, where she competed in both field hockey and lacrosse.
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