Summer Send Off: EG Field Hockey’s First ‘Family’ Reunion

by | Jul 14, 2019

Above: ‘Relic’ goalie Allison Johnson Shunney (EGHS Class of 1989). All photos courtesy of Tracy Coppola. 

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Monday, July 1, was a family reunion of sorts on the turf at Carcieri Field: the EGHS field hockey family. Seven teams came out to play in a round robin tournament, with players from 14 to 53 years old. That 53-year-old was none other than the grand dame of EG field hockey, Deb Sylvia McMullen, who’d put the whole thing together.

After years of unsuccessfully trying to organize an alumni vs. current team game, McMullen hit pay dirt by inviting all past and present players to form their own teams. In total, there were seven teams. Each team needed at least seven players (six on the field and one goalie) and they played six 15-minute games. There were three alumni teams, three current player teams and one team of future players (the incoming Class of 2023).

Perhaps the team who had the most fun also spanned the biggest age range. The Relics consisted of players from 1983 (McMullen) to 2011 (Tracey Mason).

“The Relics stole the show with their enthusiasm,” admitted McMullen. The team tied for fourth place. 

The Class of 2020 came in third place and Team Camo (recent alumni) placed second. Kaley’s Team (members of the classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017) were the undefeated champions. It certainly didn’t hurt that Kaley is Kaley McMullen, just off a four-year college field hockey career at Fairfield University.

‘Relic’ Kerri Withrow Valentine takes a shot.

Jodie Moule Neville (Class of 1995) hadn’t played field hockey since club games in college. 

“It was so much fun,” she said. “It was like reliving our glory days. Our competitive spirit came right back.”

Sisters Jodie Moule Neville and Carrie Moule Simonetti.

For the Summer Send Off, Neville and her sister Carrie Moule Simonetti both played for the Relics. There were several of two-generation players competing: mothers and daughters, aunts and nieces. 

Alison Shunney played goalie for the Relics. While her daughter is a rising star at the high school now, it was Alison as goalie who wowed her teammates at the Summer Send Off. 

Neville and McMullen in 1994.

Alison Shunney was unbelievable,” said Neville. “She was diving, she was flying across the goal to save the ball. It was like she had just been playing yesterday.”

“She played goalie like nobody’s business, “ McMullen said of Shunney, who was named her team’s MVP. McMullen added that the Relics probably “would have gotten destroyed” without the Mason sisters, Tracey and Kellie. 

What made the evening so memorable, however, was the link all the players had both to their time at EGHS and to their coach, McMullen, who’s been leading the field hockey charge since 1987. 

EG coaching legend Art Kershaw asked if she’d help coach the field hockey team. She remembers telling him, “I haven’t played field hockey in four years, but I’ll give it a shot for you.” 

She was named head coach one year later and she’s been there ever since. Ironically, McMullen didn’t even play field hockey her freshman year at EGHS. She’d been a soccer player. 

“I knew they wore skirts and that was kind of weird” – McMullen was a tomboy – “but I’m going to try it next year,” she recalled telling her freshman self. 

For Neville, she’s excited her daughters may get a chance to play for McMullen when they get to the high school in 2021. 

“Deb’s the link, she is the thread through every single player that was there,” Neville said.  

McMullen has already put out the date for next year’s Summer Send Off: Monday, June 28.

“I am hoping to have two divisions – really old and not really old – to try to encourage more players to come out,” she said. “We’re pretty excited about our little tournament.”

Kaley’s Team, alumni from 2015, 2016, and 2017, top row: Olivia Harrington, Erica Shipley and Samantha Licciardi. Bottom: Courtney McMullen and Kaley McMullen.

The Relics (alumni from 1983 to 2011), bottom row: Tracey Mason, Deb Sylvia McMullen, Alison Johnson Shunney, Jodie Moule Neville, and Traci Rainone Fairchild. Top: Angela Piacitelli Toljian, Michelle Monroe Casey, Carrie Moule Simonetti, Olivia Boyle Birch, Kerri Withrow Valentine, Susan Cameron Kiernan, and Kellie Mason.

Team Camo (recent alums), top: Megan Cronin, Claire Burbridge, Sophia Valicenti, and Jill Piacitelli. Bottom: Caroline Reilly, Delaney Kelly, Mariana Toljian, and Kathleen Casey.

Incoming seniors, left to right: Bridget Mason, Jessie Imbriglio, Elizabeth Loiselle, and Maddie Rogers. Top: Tiernan McEwen, and Julia Blessing.

Incoming Freshman, bottom left to right: Hope Scaramella, Ali Kazmier, Julia Erikson, Rachel Presbry, and Linea Cervenka. Top: Giada Gloria, Grace Casey, Gianna Salvatore, Alex Mega, Virginia Stone, Jillian Prior, Pyper Smith, and Catherine Anderson.

Incoming Juniors, left to right: Sophia Bianco, Isabella Atalay, Emma Berthiaume, Emily Aulisio, Kate Burbridge, and Genevieve Cava.

Sitting: Molly Johnson, Lola Balkcom, Sara Gomez, Emily Russell, and Riley Sullivan. Standing: Amber Salvatore, Evie Clement, Maddie Kavanaugh, and Lila Somvanshi.

Angela Piacitelli Toljian (right) with her daughter Mariana Toljian (left) and niece Jill Piacitelli.

Michelle Munroe Casey (center) with her daughters Kathleen (left) and Grace.

Deb Sylvia McMullen (center) with her daughters Kaley (left) and Courtney.

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Ricky brightman
Ricky brightman
July 15, 2019 9:40 am

Would Wilma Briggs have loved this!

Judy Stenberg
Judy Stenberg
July 15, 2019 3:12 pm

What a pleasure to read this article and see the photos. As always I love to have news of my former students, so it was a delight to see the names of Deb Sylvia, Carrie Moule, and Jodie Moule among the players. It was a great idea to have this event, and I hope it will be repeated in the future.


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