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Putting Brockport on the Map

Support the Linda Arena Class of '69 Field Project

Five decades ago, an Italian immigrant living in Batavia, NY, with his wife and five children told one of his three daughters she would be attending The College at Brockport. That decision would not only lead to a life-changing experience for Dr. Linda Arena ’69, but it would also play a direct role in impacting a generation of students at two different institutions.

Dr. Arena’s contribution to women’s athletics, and field hockey in particular, is immeasurable. At Brockport, she played both field hockey and softball on her way to earning a degree in health and physical education. “It was one of the happiest times of my life,” says Arena. “It gave me such a jump professionally. All of us in my class felt we had an excellent education. Brockport gave us the skill to compete with and lead any professionals we challenged during our careers. There’s no way I could have had the successes I was able to have without my Brockport mentors.”

In 1973, Arena earned a master’s in physical education. Shortly thereafter, she would be hired as the head coach of the College’s field hockey team with a charge of developing a different coaching model. One of the unique aspects of her program was the fact she never cut a player, often fielding squads of 60-80 players. Instead, student-athletes would compete at various levels within the program, from the varsity team on down to non-traveling intrasquad groups. Everyone was given the opportunity to succeed under Arena, regardless of skill level. Players learned that sport was about heart and that winning was about reaching one’s potential.

She guided the Golden Eagles to unprecedented success during her tenure as head coach, including three consecutive appearances in the national tournament from 1979 to 1981. In fact, the 1981 team became the first Brockport women’s program to finish in the Final Four.

A year later, Arena went on to Wittenberg University where she served as a professor in the Department of Health Fitness and Sport along with her duties as field hockey coach and the women’s athletics director. She would enjoy unparalleled success in each role and was instrumental in the growth of women’s athletics at Wittenberg. Arena retired from Wittenberg in 2012 after 30 years at the university.

Arena served on the NCAA national committee for both field hockey and softball. Additionally, she served as an editor for several publications by the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA). She published field hockey articles in the United States, Italy and Australia.

Dr. Arena was the indoor hockey chairperson for the 1979 International Summer Special Olympics held at Brockport.

In 1986, Arena was inducted into the Brockport Athletics Hall of Fame.

Head coach Linda Arena (upper right) guided the 1980 Brockport field hockey team to an NYSAIAW championship and the national tournament.