‘Appreciate the memories,’ Julie Colestock on retiring after 35 years of coaching at Camp Hill

“Meet me at the field” was a regular phrase Julie Colestock used throughout her 35 years of coaching.

Colestock synced up with former Camp Hill head coach Anna Baldini in 1987. Baldini announced her retirement in 2009 and Colestock, who had been Baldini’s assistant for 22 years, got bumped up to head coach.

It’s not something she said she thought was in the cards. She didn’t aspire to become a head coach, but once she got into it, the broader meaning of coaching resonated with her.

Flash forward 13 years, and Colestock said she was reluctantly ready to retire. She coached her last game at Siebert Park field on Oct. 17, 2022.

Her final record was 125-99-19. She grimaced when she shared that information with FAN.

It’s not that she’s uber competitive. It’s that she wants to make sure her record reflects her hopes to impact athletes beyond the playing field.

“I love to coach, and I love to teach,” she said. “I love the wellness aspect of teaching life to people, especially women over the years.”

Despite her surprise of attaining a head coaching position, she did minor in coaching at James Madison University.

“I went to JMU,” she said. “I’m proud to be a Duke. I played hockey there before it was a popular college to play field hockey at. We had a blast there.”

Colestock graduated with a degree in physical education and health. After college, she was a substitute teacher in the West Shore School District.

“My first coaching job was at Red Land Middle School,” she said. “I did a long-term sub there. I loved working there.”

The following year, Camp Hill called her for an interview. She accepted a job teaching 11th grade health and became Baldini’s assistant.

She and Baldini tried to be on the cutting edge of coaching, Colestock said.

“I pushed yoga before yoga was a thing,” Colestock said. “I battled some stuff. I believe I added more functional things for Anna. I focused on breathing and meditation, and some people believed you were crazy. We were always trying new things. Kickboxing. Trying to teach the girls more than field hockey; bringing in nutritionists.”

In recent years, she said she sensed that the athlete part in student-athlete, for some girls, wasn’t shaping their life’s direction for one reason or another. Academics have changed dramatically during times of uncertainty, which could be a factor.

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Before modern-day social media distractions were introduced, times were simpler at the beginning of Colestock’s career, she said.

Hockey was played for fun, and all the antics that surrounded it were a bonus. Colestock has a long list of memories, including one from 2005.

“I looked up during a JV game, and I saw my son shimmying across the goal post,” she said. “I looked to our athletic director at the time, George Yeager, and said, ‘uh, who’s watching their children?’”

Yeager ran to get him, she said.

The generations of field hockey players that have come through Camp Hill, they’ve seen her pregnant, raise a family, and battle breast cancer.

“The last six years have been a lot,” she said. “I’m good though. In 2014, I had a mammogram. And, it came back that I had cancer. And, I was thinking, ‘are you kidding me?’ It’s the hardest thing in the world to tell your kids something like that. I didn’t know what to do. I told them on a Sunday, and I had an operation on a Monday. And, my team was in pre-season. I knew I had to tell them.”

There was a rumor going around that Colestock was going to drug test her athletes, she said. They knew something was going on, but they didn’t know that Colestock had to have surgery.

“All the kids thought I was going to drug test them,” she said laughing. “None of them went out that weekend because they thought I was going to do that; it’s kind of funny. But, then I sat down and told 20 kids, everyone’s good, but I have to have surgery.”

Colestock quickly returned to coaching and had to hold herself back from cheering for her athletes.

“I was doing high kicks because I wasn’t allowed to throw my arms in the air,” she said. “That group, we were very close. We all went through that together. Then you feel connected to the kids whose moms have had breast cancer. I was lucky that I didn’t have to have Chemo.”

Colestock then lost both her mom and her sister within years of each other for reasons unrelated to breast cancer.

“It’s why you kind of watch nature and savor moments,” Colestock said. “Appreciate the memories. Stats aren’t the most important things as some of the other things that really connect us. UPMC gives free mammograms through a voucher fund. Saving people’s lives. That’s what matters.”


On Oct. 17, 2022, Colestock met her most recent team on the field for her last home game at Siebert Park field. She was embraced by several generations of field hockey players who wanted to show her their gratitude.

“Working with Coach Colestock has been a pleasure during my time as athletic director,” said Jake June. “I’ve been fortunate to watch her teach and coach the girls in the classroom, on the practice field, and from the sidelines during games. Coach’s passion for not only the sport of field hockey, but also the well-being of her team shines through in all of these settings. She is driven to teach the girls the game and to be successful on the field, but she also recognizes the importance of building their individual strength of character and approach to conquering obstacles in life so they can be successful off the field as well. Coach Colestock has devoted 35 years in the classroom and in the sport of field hockey and has left both better off for her time spent with our students and athletes.”

Camp Hill starts a new chapter with head Coach Cindy Raney this fall.

“Thank you,” Colestock said. “I’m grateful to the kids. Grateful for all that we’ve learned and experienced together. I’m so grateful that core group called me Mama C. It was a fun ride and that’s what’s so endearing to know that we got so lucky. Anna and I laughed every day. So many kids, who I’m so proud of. So many great kids and families. The hockey heart. Just believe.”

FAN is excited and honored that Coach Julie Colestock is attending FAN Presents: A Celebration of Girls and Women in Sport

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