Munley takes over field hockey team
Lissa Munley knows the history of Northwestern Lehigh's field hockey program.
The first-year coach sees the sign for the 1990 state title every day at the far end of her team's practice field. And she's confident the Tigers can return to the elite and become a perennial league and district title contender like they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
While her players are too young to remember Northwestern's last championship teams, they, too, see the sign. They know what the program once was.
"They see it every day and they know that's what it used to be," said Munley. "That was our talk on the first day what do you want this to be? It's our first year, if you want to embrace the change, that's what we're going to be all about it.
"We (as coaches) can't complain. We've seen progress in the past week."
Munley knows plenty about winning traditions. She was a two-time state champion as a high school goalie at Crestwood, in Mountaintop. She went on to the University of Iowa, a team that leads the Big 10 with 11 conference titles. She was an All-Big Ten goalie for the Hawkeyes.
After college, Munley returned to Mountaintop and was an assistant coach for Crestwood's 2012 state championship team.
She coaches a successful indoor club team, the Valley Styx, which play out of Wilkes-Barre.
Munley, who lives in Tamaqua, has been teaching at Northwestern since 2012 and was an assistant coach last year.
She took over the team during the offseason and will coach along with assistant Jayme Baker.
Munley always wanted to be a head coach. She's happy about where she found that job.
"Definitely something I wanted to do," she said. "I just didn't know where until I had a teaching position. It just happened to be here, which is good because they have a great legacy of hockey.
"We're excited to see where we go."
Both coaches are only a few years removed from their college playing days.
"Coach Baker and I are very young and we were just playing a few years ago," said Munley. "They see us run with them. They see us play with them. Even if they don't know our accolades, they get the idea that we want to be there with them in the process of the whole thing."
Munley praised her players' work ethic. She also likes their willingness to learn.
"I teach it almost like I'm teaching English class," she said. "They have notebooks with them every day. It's almost like a playbook. We had a classroom session the other day. If you know more about the game than the opponent, you can hang with the best of them.
"They're here and they're putting forth the effort and we're trying to bring them as much knowledge as we can about the game. We have a lot of smart girls on the team, so that helps."
Munley and her team open the season next Friday with a nonleague game at Dallas.