Hall of Fame girls' lacrosse and field hockey coach Diane Chapman, M.S. '90, was honored with the Village of Garden City's Community Achievement Award.

“I think a coach is an extension of a teacher. Just because you have your coaching certification doesn’t mean you’re not also a teacher. You’re teaching life lessons—the good and the bad.”—Diane Chapman, M.S. ’90

by Cecil Harris

Although the players change from year to year, the unparalleled success of the girls’ field hockey and lacrosse teams at Garden City High School continues. The one constant is Diane Chapman, M.S. ’90, who has coached, inspired and molded both teams into athletic dynasties since the 1990s.

Ms. Chapman’s Garden City High field hockey teams have won six New York State championships and 18 consecutive Nassau County championships. In lacrosse, her crew has won eight New York State championships, including the last seven in a row.

No wonder the Village of Garden City honored Ms. Chapman with the Community Achievement Award at its annual Pineapple Ball on April 19. And no wonder the father of one of Ms. Chapman’s former players nominated her for the honor.

“To receive an award like that from the Chamber of Commerce for doing the things I love is just unbelievable,” Ms. Chapman said.

Volatile coaches such as Mike Rice—recently fired for abusing male basketball players at Rutgers University—should take note: Ms. Chapman does not scream at or belittle her players. She wins with class.

“I can get my point across by talking to my players as opposed to yelling at them or demeaning them in the middle of a game,” said Ms. Chapman, who has coached Garden City field hockey since 1991 and lacrosse since 2002.

“I think a coach is an extension of a teacher. Just because you have your coaching certification doesn’t mean you’re not also a teacher. You’re teaching life lessons—the good and the bad. You teach young people how to handle setbacks and move on, how to be a good sport, how to make sure you don’t make others feel bad if you did something well and they didn’t.”

Ms. Chapman, who played lacrosse in high school, college and on U.S. national teams, earned a master’s degree in physical education at Adelphi University in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education.

“At Adelphi, they knew that most of the people taking the graduate courses were coaches,” said Ms. Chapman, who also teaches physical education at East Broadway Elementary School in Levittown. “They were flexible with the course schedules because they knew that you may have a game or you may be coming in a little late. It helped to have professors who have done what you’re doing in the coaching profession.”

Actually, few coaches have done what Ms. Chapman has. She’s a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame and the Nassau County Field Hockey Hall of Fame. The National High School Coaches Association has named her Coach of the Year twice. Through February 2013, her Garden City teams had won 357 games in field hockey and 203 in lacrosse. Both are Long Island high school coaching records. Those numbers will only grow because Ms. Chapman doesn’t plan to hang up her whistle any time soon.

“I’ll coach as long as I believe I can give the girls everything they deserve,” she said. “As a coach, you have to be passionate, patient, understanding and compassionate. Be a good communicator and a good teacher. And be respectful. Respect is a two-way street. I always communicate that to my players.”

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