2021 USA Field Hockey Humanitarian Award Winner: Jeanne O’Brien

by USA Field Hockey

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Following the announcement of all winners, USA Field Hockey is individually highlighting each recipient of USA Field Hockey's 2021 Annual Awards. This week, USA Field Hockey is honored to feature the 2021 Humanitarian Award winner Jeanne O’Brien.

For more than 50 years, O’Brien has been involved within the sport of field hockey, in one realm or another. Her experience includes coaching high school, volunteering for USA Field Hockey, and recruiting and training umpires in the Northeast Region, as well as nationally, through clinics, play days and, more recently virtual technology. She also develops and implements the schedule for umpires for the National Indoor Tournament and National Hockey Festival, and has sat on many boards, councils and committees.

With a background in physical education, O’Brien has the understanding and skills of what it takes to be a great coach. From 1969 to 1978, she coached at Harwood Union High School in Moretown, Vt., leading the Highlanders to three Class I State Championships, and from 1983 to 1995, she coached at Milford High School in Milford, N.H.

O’Brien has been on various boards, councils and committees including the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) Field Hockey Chair (1982-present), National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Field Hockey Rules Committee (2-terms), New England Collegiate Field Hockey Umpires Association President, and Vermont and New Hampshire Alliance of Health President. On the USA Field Hockey Board of Directors, she has been on the Umpire Advisory Board since 2006 and is in the middle of terms as the Umpire Representative (2017-2024) and Vice Chair (2021- present).

Within USA Field Hockey, O’Brien has worked as an umpire, technical officer, umpire manager and umpire coordinator at many Regional and National Events. These include 10 years at the Nexus Championship (formerly National Futures Championship), AAU Junior Olympic Games (since 2005), National Hockey Festival (since 1995) and National Indoor Tournament.

Further, she trained and oversaw the ball managers for the 2009 Junior World Cup, an impressive 318 in total, and 2017 Pan American Games. She is a Level III Certified Umpire and Umpire Manager with experience at the NCAA Division II and III Finals.

O’Brien has a deep love and respect for the game, as well as humans in general. Her efforts led her to win the 1999 National Physical Education Teacher of the Year and 2009 USA Field Hockey Betty Schellenberger Award for Umpiring.

A selfless act in 2019, along with many other unrecorded doings, led to her recognition as the Humanitarian Award Winner. At a Regional Event, it was raining so an athlete who wears a hearing aid due to hearing loss couldn’t wear her device. During one game, an umpire blew a loud whistle and yelled at the athlete for not hearing it or stopping. The athlete got upset, came off the field crying and felt attacked. O’Brien took the time to calm the athlete down and process the situation. She helped her advocate for herself by approaching the umpire and explaining her situation and established a process of letting the officials know of her hearing loss before each game. Without O’Brien’s guidance this athlete might have stopped playing the sport.

"I am very humbled and honored to receive an award for simply doing something I love,” commented O’Brien.

Congratulations once again to Jeanne O’Brien for winning the 2021 USA Field Hockey Humanitarian Award. Join USA Field Hockey to celebrate and honor all of the 2021 Annual Awards on Saturday, February 5, 2022 at the 100th Anniversary and Hall of Fame Celebration, hosted by the U.S. Field Hockey Foundation, at The Union League of Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.