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Friday, June 7, 2019

A History of Women's Sports Chapter 2: Field Hockey -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

A History of Women's Sports Chapter 2: Field Hockey

In continuation for the summer Friday posts we move onto the second edition of our history lesson.  Last week I covered volleyball, the next women's sport to have a game (over 70 days away).  The next team in line to play a game is field hockey.

(Note: Stats and figures comes from multiple sources including GoCards, the Courier-Journal, the NCAA, and more. Very little information is given for early years.)

The first official tracked year by most standards for Louisville Field Hockey began in the fall of 1976.  However, UofL actually started the sport back in 1927.  Lillian "Tucky" Sanders was the first coach for the Cards, but no records or stats were listed anywhere.  They did make national news the following season by traveling to Nashville to play Peabody College.  At the time, schools stayed local for games and by traveling a few hours out of town Louisville became the first Southern School girl's/women's hockey team to travel long distance for a game.

"Mrs. B and the squad on her birthday last fall" 
Any mention of the "early days" of Louisville Field Hockey must include Sherrill Brakmeier.

She graduated from UofL in 1944 and was a four year player on the UofL Field Hockey squad. Upon graduation, she went into a 30-year tenure as the head coach of the squad. She has the distinction of being the first woman to be inducted into the University of Louisville Athletic Hall of Fame. Mrs "B" taught volleyball, basketball, fencing, bowling as well.

She still attends at least one game a season, has a reserved seat in the press box and the squad celebrates her birthday post-game. She'll gladly tell you stories about those days, she drove one of the team vans, prepared snacks for the girls post-game, lined the field, arranged for referees and trained her student-athletes to work as volunteers with the Special Olympics and many other charitable, non-profit groups. "Mrs. B" has also been known to bring "treats" to the game and offer them to the working media and staff. Still a legend in her nineties and able to follow and comment on the action.

It wasn't until 1972 that field hockey became a varsity sport at UofL, the same year women's basketball, tennis, volleyball and gymnastics became varsity sports too.

--Tangent alert!!! I never knew UofL had a varsity gymnastics team.  This is one sport I've mentioned in the past I'd like to get on campus at some point.  The old program lasted from 1972-1982 before it was cut.  Perhaps we will see a new program begin in the future with the rise of gymnastics nationwide.  End tangent.--

About the time Paulie was making his presence known on the Belknap Campus, Field Hockey was participating against a lot of regional schools. His recollection of the squad is:

"They were a fun-loving, aggressive bunch who were mostly in the same sorority on campus. I had a friend who dated one of the defense players and their parties were pretty legendary. Not only were they a pretty "easy-on-the-eyes" group of women, they had a strong unity and camaraderie and always did well in the classroom. The roster had a lot of girls from the Catholic high schools in the Louisville area back then and a good amount of them still lived at home and commuted to school and practices." 

Sandy McLaughlin (later McLaughlin-Tabler) commanded the sticks beginning 1976 and they joined the Kentucky Women's Intercollegiate Conference.

Louisville opened up their first fully tracked season with a 3-1 victory over Hanover College (IN).  They would go on to finish the year 9-2 with both losses coming against Eastern Kentucky.  During this time period Kentucky still had an official field hockey team and the Cards are 7-0 all-time against them.  McLaughlin stayed with the program through 1980.  Although there is no record of where she went from there I did find a Sandy McLaughlin in Louisville that was a district court judge up through this year.

Debbie Codreva took over in 1981 and stayed with the Cards for four years.  Not much is known about her since her departure other than her occasional appearances at alumni events.

Cheri Hauber became the next head coach in 1985 and was head coach for two years before leaving.

In 1987, Theresa Young became the next head coach.  Young remained through 1991 and left after finding little success with the program.

Bridgett Strickler took over in 1992 and was with UofL through 1995.  During her time as head coach the Cardinals joined the MAC for field hockey but had little success on the field

Cate Clark was head coach from 1996-1997.  She was the youngest Division 1 field hockey coach at the time and is now the Associate Dean of Admissions at Regis University (CO) according to her LinkedIn profile.

Pam Bustin entered the picture in 1998 and
stayed through 2010.  Hired by Tom Jurich, Bustin was UofL's first full-time field hockey head coach.  Her career started bumpy but quickly turned around at the millennium mark.  During her time as head coach the Cards found themselves in the national rankings on several occasions and joined the Big East Conference.  She eventually left UofL and is now the head coach at Duke, a current conference rival for the Cards.  UofL beat Bustin and the Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament in 2017.

Current head coach Justine Sowry first took over as head coach in 2011.  Since her arrival to the program Louisville has been considered a powerhouse in field hockey, often ranking in the Top 10 and making several NCAA Tournament appearances.  The transition to the ACC has been rough, seeing as the ACC dominates in field hockey, but Sowry has helped the Cards adjust to keep them in the spotlight.  Sowry served as an assistant under Bustin from 1998-2002.

Trager Stadium is the Cards' current home and has been since 2000, where they hold a winning record.  It has been the site for conference tournaments and NCAA Championships.  It was hard tracing back to other home field locations but Crawford Gymnasium Field played host site for field hockey for a long time.  The field and gymnasium have both been demolished and replaced by a rapidly growing campus. They also played in the area considered the outfield for the old Parkway Field where Louisville Baseball played.

Jessica Javalet is perhaps the most decorated field hockey player for UofL, where she played from 2003-2006.  She led the nation in scoring her junior year and is in first on many UofL record lists.  She most recently played on the US Rugby team at the Rio Olympics.

Nicole Youman also sits high in the record books, finishing behind Javalet in many offensive categories.

The Cards have had a long list of All-Americans with Ayeisha McFerran being the most recent and UofL's first four-time All-American.  The recently graduated goalkeeper is considered one of the best in Louisville history, and a favorite of Cardinal Couple.  We will miss her Irish accent on post-game interviews.  Katie Walsh and Taylor Stone both graduated with McFerran this past year.

Louisville starts the fall season with the annual alumnae game on Saturday, August 24, with the first regular season game being Friday, August 30, against Indiana.

You can catch Paulie, Worldwide and myself covering many of the home games live as we attempt to dodge the powerful attack of the sprinkler. You might even catch me playing the national anthem on the euphonium or taking pictures of the action on the well as catching Paulie's post-game interviews with Coach Sowry.


It appears we will be back to a full house and the original "A" team on air this Saturday as we discuss the Wonderful World of Banking... or something like that.  I expect to see another world famous Cardinal Couple Quiz!  Please join us for these quizzes, whether on Facebook Live, on air or through a rerun you watch Sunday morning.

Catch Paulie, Worldwide Jeff, Case, me and who knows, maybe even the travelling Daryl will drop in for a visit.

Happy Friday and Go Cards!


**All black and white photos provided by the UofL Libraries Digital Collections**


  1. Will Paulie give a hint on what the quiz will be about?

    Curtis "Is a whiz at the quiz" Franklin

  2. MHA really blew a great opportunity tonight in their game vs the Liberty. They only brought 8 players. She went in fairly deep into 1st period and by 6 minutes or so in the 2nd period had 2 fouls, took a charge that seriously could have gone the other way and received a no call where she had jumped up into the air and was flailing her arms at a shooter that could have been called.

    Coach took her out and she did not go back in until 1 minute left in the game.

    Asia played what I think was her best game yet. Still adjusting to the game speed and physicality but she is getting there. Still passes off too much for the pro game. Needs to use more of her 1 on 1 offensive skills as she passes to someone who is double teamed but still shoots.


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