There is a reason UConn field hockey refers to their coach of 30 years, Nancy Stevens, as the Greatest Of All Time. The Huskies played in the last 17 NCAA championships before the 2020 season, and Stevens helped lead the team to their fifth championship title, including in 2013, 2014, and 2017.
Stevens announced her retirement in August 2020, but is optimistic about the Huskies’ future. Her longtime assistant coach, Paul Caddy, will be taking her place.
“The future for UConn field hockey couldn’t be any brighter and I am so proud to have been a part of its enduring legacy,” Stevens said in a statement.
Stevens will not miss UConn’s next season — she will be close by as a volunteer assistant coach to help ensure a smooth transition for the team. Caddy admits it was hard for Stevens to leave the team which has become “a family” for her, but the global pandemic and cancellation of NCAA fall sports in 2020 prompted Stevens to retire sooner than perhaps she expected.
“We have a tremendous amount of talent and we only graduated two starters from an Elite 8 team. However, we aren’t having a season. We’re going to hope for a spring season but I can’t make decisions based on hope. That really informed my decision,” she told the Hartford Courant. “ Seemed like the timing would be the best. And knowing Paul was going to be the coach: That made my decision much easier. Paul’s one of the top five coaches in the country and that includes all head coaches.”
Stevens produced 50 First Team All-Americans, led teams to win 19 Big East Tournament championships, and made 24 NCAA tournaments. Stevens began her illustrious coaching career in the midst of a five-year stint on the U.S. national field hockey team as a player from 1974-1979. In 1977, Stevens was an assistant field hockey and lacrosse coach at Penn State and then moved to Franklin and Marshall College. She spent nine years as head field hockey coach at Northwestern before landing at UConn in 1990. Paul Caddy joined Stevens 10 years laters, and was able to attract international talent because of his British background.
One of the factors Stevens cites as her most powerful tool in producing successful teams is keeping the atmosphere light and fun.
“We all know what the expectations are, but you have to continue to present the experience as something joyful, something that we love to do, as opposed to something you have to do,” Stevens told the Hartford Courant. “The chemistry we have with our coaching staff over 20 years — that continuity plays a big part in the success.”
That chemistry was able to catapult Stevens to historic heights. The NFHCA Hall of Fame inductee is the first coach to achieve 700 wins in collegiate field hockey.
“Who better to learn from than a three time National Champion and the winningest coach in NCAA Division I field hockey history?” Caddy happily told UConn Athletics.
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