Anytime a program prepares to celebrate its 50th year in any sport, it will undoubtedly have a wide variety of great memories to look back on.
And when you're far and away the most-decorated team in York-Adams League history, such as Dallastown in field hockey, it could mean that some of those memories may slip your mind over time, but that they'll always be replaced by others that will live on forever.
This season, the Wildcats will celebrate 50 years in program history, one littered with division and district titles, phenomenal athletes and one legendary coach. In the first 49 years of existence, Dallastown has been unrivaled as the top team in the York-Adams League, amassing a 556-187-59 overall record, that includes 20 league titles and two District 3 crowns. But if those numbers don't scream domination, then consider this: in 14 of those league-winning seasons, the Wildcats went undefeated, including an incredible run of not losing a league game from 1995-1999, with the streak finally coming to an end in a 1-0 defeat to Red Lion in 2000.
That success, naturally, meant annual trips to postseason play. Even with it becoming a regular occurrence, it's still something that never got lost on any of the players.
"It was always fun to get to the other level and get to go to the championships within the county and get to go to district play," said Bonnie Blouse, a member of the Wildcats from 1974-77. "That was always exciting."
The players cherish those trips to the playoffs, and perhaps that's where Dallastown stands out from other teams. Even the best programs go through down periods. It's almost inevitable.
But after Myers' first season in 1981, one in which the Wildcats stumbled to a 3-10 record, they've never had a sub-.500 season. There is a sense of pride and honor to wear the Dallastown uniform and step onto the field as a member of the field hockey program, one that's instilled in its players starting at the middle school level.
"My junior high coach, this is her 23rd year," Myers said. "So what she does in junior high, she always says 'when you play varsity, this is what is going to be expected.' So, kids aren't coming up and having a different philosophy, so we're just trying to carry it right through."
The Wildcats have been helped by having the best feeder program in the area, seeing some of the most notable players in program history develop on the junior high and junior varsity teams before making the jump to varsity. The junior high program was started in 1987, and it was where Suzi Sutton grew as a player before going on to set the school record for most goals in a single season (30) in 1999 and also break Connie Blouse's school record for most career goals with 61. It can also be attributed to helping Lindsey Calabretta develop into a standout goalkeeper for the Wildcats, where she recorded 13 shutouts during the 1998 season.
Reliving the memories: On Sept. 6, many of those players and all of those memories that helped make Dallastown so storied will be back in one place to celebrate the 50th year of the program's existence. The celebration will be part of the Dallastown Invitational, a four-team tournament featuring the Wildcats, Kennard-Dale, Bermudian Springs and Boiling Springs. The tournament is set to begin at 3 p.m., with the other festivities scheduled to take place before the game action.
Myers and her current staff of coaches have reached out to past members who played for Dallastown, hoping to get a group of players from all six decades to turn out for the reunion. Myers said they are also trying to gather old memorabilia from every year, including old sticks and uniforms.
For a program that is full of history, it will be an opportunity for members, both past and present, to be in one place to celebrate it. It'll be a chance for the current players to look at the past and see the tradition that they're trying to uphold. And for the past players, they'll have a chance to watch the current group of girls in action, as they try to continue to strengthen the legacy of Dallastown field hockey.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the Dallastown Field Hockey 50th Anniversary Facebook page.