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Sept. 23, 2012
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Speechless.
For what many describe to have been a first in her 29-year coaching career, field hockey head coach Charlene Morett was at a loss for words following her milestone victory over Indiana.
The dominant, 7-1 thrashing of the Hoosiers served as Morett's 400th career victory as the head coach of the Nittany Lions--a feat that has only been accomplished by three other coaches in NCAA history.
"It is an honor and a privilege for be to be a coach here and to represent all the other coaches here and everybody that has been a part of the Penn State athletic family," said Morett.
Morett began her collegiate field hockey career at the place that she likes to call home--The Pennsylvania State University.
As a Nittany Lion, she netted 50 goals in four years, and became the only player in Penn State field hockey history to be named a First-Team All-American three seasons in a row.
Her phenomenal scoring abilities and leadership earned her the role of team captain of the undefeated 1978 team, and propelled her to a career at the international level as she became a two-time Olympian.
Morett's 26 seasons at Penn State are a testament to her loyalty and determination--qualities that were even evident in her career as a player.
After her playing days in Happy Valley were over, she remained a member of the Nittany Lion team as a graduate assistant and stayed with the squad during her Olympic training.
Her loyalties weren't only extended to Penn State--but her country as well.
In 1980, when Morett was scheduled to make her first appearance on the Olympic stage, the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games, and the team didn't see any Olympic action.
This didn't stop her. She continued to train and traveled the world to play in numerous international matches to ready herself for her next goal, the 1984 Olympics.
She went on to win bronze in '84, and 27 years after the 1980 boycott, was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
After her playing days ended, she became the head field hockey and lacrosse coach at Boston College. In just three seasons with the Eagles, she resurrected the program and earned herself the ticket she had been waiting for--a ticket back home.
In 1987, Morett returned to Happy Valley and was named the head coach of the Nittany Lion field hockey team, filling the shoes of her former coach and mentor Gillian Rattray.
"So many people made my experience at Penn State as an athlete so wonderful and rewarding that I wanted to come back and give back to the program," she said.
In 26 seasons leading the program, she has given back in many forms. But most recognizably in the form of 24 winning seasons, 36 First-Team All-Americans, two Final Four appearances, and of course--400 wins.
But this milestone isn't all about statistics and isn't even solely about Morett. It is about the Nittany Lion family.
"I have the greatest job in the world because I am coaching at a university that I love and coaching with my best friend," said associate head coach Lisa Bervinchak-Love.
Bervinchak-Love, referred to as "LB" by Morett, has been an assistant on the Penn State sideline for 18 seasons and played for the Nittany Lions for three seasons.
The trend of player becoming a coach at the same university hasn't been a rare occurrence in the Penn State field hockey program.
Morett and LB are joined in this list by current volunteer assistant coach Jen Long, who was a standout for the Nittany Lions from 2005-2008, and former assistant coach and player Tara Maguire, among others.
So what is it about Happy Valley that brings these Nittany Lions back and retains them here for so long?
For LB and Morett, it's the unity of the entire university, the athletic program, and the community that surrounds it.
"It's too hard not to love this place," said Bervinchak-Love. "I couldn't see myself anywhere else. I love being a part of the Penn State family."
The unity and loyalty that has been displayed by the coaching duo and by so many other Penn State student-athletes and coaches isn't something that is necessarily coached--but something that is acquired and inherited while playing under the shadow of Mt. Nittany.
"A lot of credit goes to the athletes that come here and that they understand the tradition of success," said Morett.
This year's squad has a clear understanding of the Penn State tradition of success and the importance of togetherness. Even after a monumental win for their coach and their season, the focus remains the same.
"Coach is just a great person and she consistently tries to make us better on and off the field," said junior Lauren Purvis. "Today's game was a great way to open up against the Big Ten and we have a big game on Sunday."
So just like that, 400 wins and a 7-1 victory aside, this squad is heading back to work and focusing on what lies ahead--a tough conference schedule and an exciting postseason opportunity.