Liz Sack: Merion Mercy and SJU Field Hockey

Hannah Facenda, Staff Writer

Liz Sack, a member of Merion’s class of 2012, has achieved significant success in both playing and coaching field hockey. During her time at Merion, playing for Syracuse University, and currently coaching at St. Joseph’s University, Liz Sack has demonstrated outstanding talent and immense love for the sport. In June of 2019, Sack was chosen to participate in the NCAA Women Coaches Academy, where she expanded and developed effective training and leadership skills in order to provide her team at St. Joseph’s University with the skills and ability to succeed and progress.

Some of her personal successes came from her years spent at Merion Mercy Academy. She was named MVP in 2012, scoring twenty-seven points on eight goals and eleven assists during her senior year. Sack even placed second at the Junior National Championships in China in 2012, an outstanding and honorable accomplishment. Besides field hockey, Sack dedicated time to other extracurricular activities offered in the Merion community. She served on Student Council, Women for Life an Love, Spanish Club, and History Club.

She talked about her success and connection to the Merion Mercy community in an interview last month:

Q: What is a prominent memory you have of your time at Merion?

A: I will say I absolutely loved Kairos and if anyone is thinking about not going, I believe it’s worth the mystery! I had to think for a few minutes on this one but a prominent memory was winning prom queen. It makes me laugh because it was totally random and picked out of a hat. It was a really great memory though and I kept the tiara in my hockey locker at Syracuse for our competition/diva days!

Q: Can you explain how what you’re doing now— coaching field hockey— stems from your experience at MMA?

A: Coaching field hockey gives me the opportunity to work with college student athletes who are in a developmental time in their lives. I enjoy using my experiences from Merion – particularly in my Beauty Shop and Social Justice classes – to help guide the student athletes through their challenges. These two classes taught me a lot about both compassion and empathy, which are critical to employ when student athletes need your guidance for off-the-field challenges that life may bring their way.

Q: What’s an important lesson or skill you’ve learned at Merion that still inspires you today?

A: After I graduated from Merion I realized that the length that my teachers and staff went to empower the young women in the school was unique. It didn’t occur to me until later that not everyone in the world feels that women are strong, impressive, and ‘can-do-anything’ people. I feel that Merion instilled in me that girl power is real, important, and foolish to ignore. I am proud of being a woman and feel it is a strength to be one!

Q: What’s some advice you’d give to Merion athletes wanting to pursue their sport in college or even beyond?

A: I recommend a few things for those athletes who have their sights set on collegiate or professional level playing.

First, playing multiple sports is an advantage!! Specializing in one sport can be limiting to your development as an athlete, so I highly suggest picking up an out-of-season sport to keep you happy and healthy out of your championship season.

Second, I know social media is all-consuming, but be mindful that you don’t get swept up in the Instagram posts too much! Please recognize your journey will look different than your teammates from a club team or Merion. Comparing your development to others will only hurt your mental health. It is very important that you are kind to yourself so above all else, put yourself first.

Third, it is helpful to have an idea of what you like. Ask yourself what do you like about playing your sport. Do you love practicing? Do you only live for game days? Does the pregame dance party make you happiest? These answers help give you clues into the culture, competitiveness, and time commitment that fit you!

These three tips are evolving elements of being an athlete that will need some checking in and reevaluating as you grow throughout your career.

Q: What are some of your most recent achievements while coaching field hockey at St. Joe’s?

A: We’ve recently completed a successful 2019 season that included winning a regular season title, Atlantic 10 title, and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance. This marks our fourth consecutive regular season title, third consecutive Atlantic 10 title, and our third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. We’re very proud of the growth the program has had over the past few seasons!

I was also fortunate enough to participate in the WeCoach Coaches Academy this past summer in Colorado! WeCoach provides coaching development to women coaches across all divisions and sports. It was an immersive experience and I am grateful to have met some awesome coaches while I was out there!