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A worthy honor for Worley

Published 8:59pm Tuesday, August 12, 2014

During any given sports season, it’s normally the players who get the attention and the glory for whatever success a particular team has. Conversely, if a team performs poorly, individual players normally aren’t held responsible for it; that honor goes to the coaches. It’s true from the Little League level all the way to the pros.

And the common way of looking at things is pretty appropriate, for the most part. Athletes make the big plays that win the big games, and coaches make decisions that can result in dismal seasons and broken legacies.

But once in a while a coach comes along whose vision and drive and ability to motivate teams helps those teams make history again and again. Tara Worley was most assuredly that kind of coach for the Lakeland High School Lady Cavaliers, and she was appropriately honored for it on Thursday, when word came down that she had been named the National High School Coaches Association’s field hockey Coach of the Year.

Worley has received many accolades during her 15 years of excellence as the coach of the Lady Cavaliers, but this is the highest profile recognition she has received to date, and it comes near the beginning of the school’s first season in a decade and a half without her at the helm of the field hockey program.

Worley and the Lakeland program were blessed with their share of raw athletic talent, and the former coach is graciously quick to deflect credit for the team’s long record of success to those players, but it’s clear to anyone who watches the sport — including the folks at the NHSCA — that her leadership transformed Lakeland’s program into “one of the best in the state of Virginia.”

Worley’s tenacity and drive were the backbone of a team that went 250-46-3 under her guidance, winning a state title, two regional titles and more than a dozen district titles. In short, whenever other schools were set to play the Lady Cavs, they knew they were in for a tough game, no matter who was holding the sticks on the field.

Even after stepping down from her coaching responsibilities, Worley continues to influence Lakeland field hockey indirectly. One of her protégés, former LHS standout Cortney Parker, stepped into her coach’s shoes when she took a promotion from assistant coach to head coach upon Worley’s departure from the job. That kind of transition is another testament to the former coach’s excellent leadership.

It’s hard to imagine a coach more worthy of this honor than Tara Worley. We offer our sincere congratulations.

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