2023 USA Field Hockey Grow the Game Award Winner: Amanda Lawson
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Following the announcement of all winners, USA Field Hockey is individually highlighting each recipient of USA Field Hockey's 2023 Annual Awards. This week, USA Field Hockey is honored to feature the 2023 Grow the Game Award winner, Amanda Lawson.
Lawson grew up in Aston, Pa. and sports have always been an intricate part of her life. Her first athletic memories came in the form of basketball and competitive dance. In seventh grade, she traded in her tutu for a field hockey stick and from that moment on, her passion grew for the game. A key moment in her career was the 1995 National Hockey Festival in Indio, Calif. She was asked to play with a group of athletes from Delaware County and the surrounding area. Playing the sport she grew to love, with the immaculate backdrop of the mountains made the experience unforgettable – not to mention her first exposure to watching older women compete. Those adult athletes made Lawson realize that field hockey was a lifelong sport with so much to give and gain.
Following a successful high school playing career, Lawson went on to play collegiately at Ursinus College under legendary coach Vonnie Gros. Ursinus was a Division I program at the time and was considered the home of USA Field Hockey at the college level. As a Bear, she developed lifelong friendships that were fostered by the love of the game. In addition, her passion for coaching was shaped as a direct result of working with the Ursinus staff. Coach Gros’ passion for the game and her high standards for her athletes helped shape the coaching style that Lawson later adopted.
Following graduating in 2000, Lawson returned to her alma mater of Sun Valley High School. In her first year, she took over as varsity head coach from my former coach, Bud Frampton. After a short stint there, she made the move to Strath Haven High School and was an assistant coach for a few years before taking over as the head varsity coach. It was at Strath Haven where she become dedicated to growing the game and giving back to the sport that has given her so much.
After many successful years with Strath Haven High School, Lawson knew it was time to grow the game at the entry level. Several years ago she began a youth program for players in the Wallingford-Swarthmore community and school district. Little Panthers Field Hockey was taken up as a sport by the Swarthmore Recreation Association and is now called Nether-Swarthmore Field Hockey. The Lady Foxes have programs for players in kindergarten through eighth grade. This youth program has provided a pipeline to help grow the game within the school district and surrounding community. In addition, it has helped jumpstart the coaching careers of many current student-athletes.
During the 2004-05 season, Lawson founded the club team, Horizon Field Hockey Club. The idea sparked when during the off-season she decided to take the Strath Haven High School’s varsity team to an indoor tournament at Ursinus College. Going into it, I knew we didn’t really had a chance against the many talented clubs in Pennsylvania. She knew in that moment that she wanted that to be the next jump as a coach and mentor. Horizon FHC was born on the college campus where Lawson last competed.
Lawson admits that starting the club was not easy. She placed an advertisement in the local paper and gathered players through friends, acquaintances and when shaking hands with fellow teams where she knew players were not connected to an already established club team.
The following year Horizon FHC played in its first indoor season with just one team. That squad practiced in gyms, bouncing balls off of bleachers and shooting on floor hockey nets. Since that time, Horizon has grown to a year-round program that offers indoor and outdoor training to more than 200 athletes. They have trained members of the indoor and outdoor U.S. National Teams, college players from all three divisions, and even an athlete who went on to play internationally. Some former players have even morphed the game as official and coaches.
Horizon FHC prides itself on being a club that not only trains athletes but also shapes confident young women. It stresses personal responsibility, resilience, hard work and fun. In addition to growing the game to athletes, Lawson is proud of growing the coaching tree. Horizon’s coaching staff is made up of many former players who have returned to help “grow the game” in their own respect. It is through these coaches that so many young women have had the opportunity to train and flourish both on and off the court. Her contributions to growing the game are directly related to these important individuals.
She is proud to share the Grow the Game award with the longtime Horizon staff members of Alison Miraglia, Carly Zerbe-Reid, Sandy Leiti, Steph Bullock, Kevin Patterson, Bob Christopher, Debbie Phillips, Mary Catherine Stumm, Erin Fidler, Lauren Burdalski, Carrera Lucas, and Jessica Rice. Also her former players who have turned into coaches in Jessika Daniels, Giuliana Antignani, Michaela Quigley, Megan Davies, Meghan Plank, Lindsay Pratt, Liz Tosto, Sydney Corcoran, Jessica Randazzo, Gill Ross, Gill Gunn, Amanda Panati and Lea VanLuvender.
“I always tell my athletes that field hockey is a difficult and technical game that forces you to find a way to make something out of a mistake and work hard even when you aren’t directly contributing to the action,” commented Lawson. “It’s a game of thinking. It’s a game that helps your mind, body, and soul grow. It is a game that builds community and gives you so much. With this, comes the greater responsibility to always give back.”
Congratulations once again to Amanda Lawson for winning the 2023 Grow the Game Award.