Mary Ellen Hasenfuss says she has never counted her win total during her field hockey tenure at Medway High.
Which is not surprising, since the number that really matters when it comes to the veteran mentor is the thousands of children she has affected in her half century of service as a teacher and coach in the city.
This fall marks her 50th anniversary with Medway’s field hockey program, a journey that began with what she calls “a baptism of fire.”
Hasenfuss was hired in 1972 as a health and physical education teacher and was immediately thrown into JV’s open field hockey position despite having no prior experience with the sport. Having worked through high school and college to get through UMass Amherst, Hasenfuss didn’t have much time for extracurricular activities like sports growing up, and hoped to perhaps train gymnastics instead.
She was elevated to head coach in 1977 and is still there.
“It’s very inspiring to see how hard children work to improve both academically and athletically, which is why it has kept me in the ball game,” Hasenfuss said. “To see them so excited about their successes and to see them use their failures or shortcomings as a way to improve themselves is amazing. It is a great gift to me and I have always considered myself blessed to be at Medway. ”
Hasenfuss has also held a spot on the outdoor track show for about the same time. She continued in her role as a teacher until 2003, when she transitioned to interim assistant principal at Medway High and then assistant principal at Medway Middle School before retiring in 2010, in part because she had to choose between being an administrator or a coach, which was an easy decision. .
“She is just amazing. She’s such a Medway, ”said Jeff Parcells, who has watched Hasenfuss as his current athletic director at Medway and from the other side as a former AD at Dover-Sherborn. “It has a bit of the old school in it, but it has done a very good job of changing with the times. She has a great relationship with children and is super, super passionate about what she does. ”
Hasenfuss said the evolution of field hockey from its inception to now is day and night. One particular change stands out in your mind.
“What really saved field hockey is the grass,” Hasenfuss said. “It’s a much cleaner and more skilled game on grass than ever on grass. It was difficult to get the kids to come play on the grass because it didn’t always cut well, it was three inches long, and you couldn’t see the ball and move it. When the grass came in, the kids were able to be more successful more quickly, and everyone started loving it more and more. ”
Just because Hasenfuss isn’t tracking her milestones doesn’t mean winning isn’t important to her. With the strength of other programs at the school, field hockey doesn’t always attract as many elite athletes as other fall sports, but the Mustangs did win Tri-Valley League titles in 1984, 1987 and 2018.
She says she still thinks about a Division 2 South final loss to Canton in 2010, the deepest tournament on the show, and wonders what she could have done differently.
But even that loss pales in comparison to the toughest loss she has suffered as Mustang’s coach when Maddie Lamson, her main goalkeeper, tragically died in a car accident in 2015.
“I’ll never get over that,” Hasenfuss said excitedly.
The fire still burns in season 50. And just because it’s a nice round number, don’t expect Hasenfuss to hang it up just yet.
“I still love him. My husband says, ‘Oh my God, August is coming,’ and I say, ‘Yes, it is,’” Hasenfuss said. “I still love what I do very much. People ask me if I’m going to quit and not I have plans to do it right now. If I am physically capable and I feel like I can do the work that needs to be done, I will keep doing it. You never know what will happen, but I only take the good and hope the good continues. ”