A Special Place, a Special Program

April 25, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa field hockey team hosted its annual spring tournament April 16 at Grant Field. Each year, it presents a chance for the current Hawkeyes to improve. The afternoon featuring an alumni team also provides a chance for the Iowa alums to return to their old stomping grounds.

Iowa has made 11 NCAA Final Four appearances, the fourth-most all-time nationally. The Hawkeyes’ last appearance in the national semifinals came in 2008. Lissa Munley was a standout goalkeeper on that Hawkeye team. She was among 10 former Iowa field hockey players who competed in the annual tournament.

“It was a blast,” said Munley. “Our team had so much fun playing again on Grant Field. It was amazing to see just how much the field has changed since we left. It is the best place to play in the whole country, and I was happy to get the chance to cross the gold line again.

For Munley, this presents a great opportunity to return to the place she values so highly, Iowa City, and see people she values so much.

“Being an alumnus of Iowa is an honor,” said the former regional All-American and all-Big Ten honoree. “While at the University, I had opportunities and experiences that I would have never been a part of at any other place. Iowa City, the people, and my experience there will always hold a special place in my heart. It is a place that has built me and will continue to be the cornerstone of the person I am for the rest of my life. I appreciate Iowa and all it offers.

“The tournament was a great opportunity and we loved to be around each other. It was great to see everyone and be on the campus again. We have a close bond so any time we get together it is well worth every moment.”

Associate head coach Lisa Cellucci, the all-time Hawkeye saves leader, echoed Munley’s thoughts on the alumni tournament.

“It was great to have the alumni participate as a team in our spring tournament,” said Cellucci, a three-time All-American and four-time all-Big Ten honoree. “All of the alumni in attendance had very successful careers during their time at Iowa and it was so wonderful for them to be back on Grant Field wearing the Black and Gold.”

The Hawkeyes have enjoyed great success over the years. Iowa won the 1986 national championship and is one of only eight programs all-time to have claimed a national title. The Hawkeyes have been crowned Big Ten regular season champions 11 times, the most of any conference team.

Iowa has won 26 NCAA Tournament games, the most among Big Ten schools and the fifth-most nationally. All of the alums feel this sense of pride of being a part of such a special program.

“My time as a student-athlete at Iowa was so special,” said Cellucci. “My coaches and teammates will always have a special place in my heart. Iowa field hockey has a tradition of excellence and upholding that tradition is in the forefront of my mind every day.

“It is so fun to go to work every day and motivate the current Hawkeyes to maximize their four years here. It is an honor and privilege to be an alumnus of this program.”