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
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.”
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.