Thanking Lower Dauphin’s Linda Kreiser, a field hockey giant

Linda Kreiser began her high school field hockey coaching career in the 1970s, at a time of social change in sports and education and built a legacy at Lower Dauphin.

The 70-year-old announced her retirement in March. She’s been the leader for the past 45 years and has served hundreds of female athletes not only at Lower Dauphin, but also through her Red Rose camp.

Growing up in an era when sports were considered a man’s realm, Kreiser played field hockey for three years at Lower Dauphin in high school and then she went on to become a dominant force at Millersville. She scored 51 goals, a university record. Kreiser also played basketball and lacrosse.

Her field hockey jersey, No. 21, has also been retired and no other player has been allowed to wear it.

During her time at Millersville, Title IX was authorized, which changed the opportunity landscape. It expanded federal financial support to female athletes, as well as females in education. She was part of the original generation that were not offered scholarships.

Kreiser made the USA Women’s National Team in 1972. Friends who know her best, know that she was later cut by the USA National Team in 1979, which is when she had already begun her coaching career.

She began as a junior high coach at Lower Dauphin in 1978. The founder of Lower Dauphin field hockey, her mentor, and only predecessor, Bea Hallman, passed the baton to Kreiser, when she retired.

It goes without saying, Kreiser made a choice to share her joy with others.

Just last year, Kreiser went to South Africa, but this time to compete as a member of USA Field Hockey’s Over-65 team in the 2022 World Masters Hockey World Cup. She’s traveling to Italy in August again to play in another tournament.

Her final record is 876-124-44. Here is reaction from a few people who know her best.

Shelly Behrens, Millersville head coach

“How do I encapsulate how one woman has changed mine and families’ lives. Her influence and love for all her players extends well past the field and her time in a Lower Dauphin uniform. Coach Kreiser has mastered the art of coaching and not only impacted and changed my life but over hundreds of players lives that have come through the Lower Dauphin field hockey program. She has done this with nothing but being herself and sharing her love and passion for the game. She created a culture of excellence before that word was popular. She always shared her fun of the game with competitiveness and lessons learned and laughs. I am forever grateful to have been and to be a part of the Lower Dauphin Field Hockey family and to have been coached by Coach Kreiser. I am not sure there will ever be anyone else like her.

“Thanks to Linda, I was the first athlete ever to receive a full athletic scholarship – male or female in 1984. That path following me has been created thanks to her. Instead of going to the team camp with Lower Dauphin, Coach Kreiser supported my going to a USA field hockey camp, which at that time was then known as D, C, B, and A camps. Doing that allowed me to get noticed and from that a full scholarship. Had she said – go to the team camp, I would have. But, in typical Kreis fashion, she supported what was important to her players. Something I have always remembered and tried to do as a coach. Being the first full scholarship athlete, male or female from Lower Dauphin, was life changing. I got an amazing education and got to play on an NCAA championship team with Old Dominion. It also offered me an avenue to coaching as a profession. Being able to be the Millersville field hockey coach is something I truly love. The fact that Coach Kreis is also alma mater is just fitting.”

Dave Bitting, retired Lower Dauphin athletic director

“First, coaches never worked for me, I worked for them. She never came with problems, only solutions. She treated her top player the same as she treated her 50th player. Same went with those who followed the program. Once you were around Linda and her program you were hooked. That is why LDFH has the fan base it does. Honestly don’t have a memory that stands out above others as she made every occasion special. Funny story was in one of my first years, before we had turf, I would try to find turf fields for them to practice on during the postseason. She would take any turf time I could get her. One time on a Friday we showed up at Steel High before a night football game. They didn’t even have field hockey. In typical Linda fashion she showed up with cookies for their football coaches, the Steel High players probably never saw field hockey before and stood around in amazement watching them practice. The football coach called me to say Linda could use their turf any time she wanted. All it took was cookies. Additionally, much like many, many parents I will never be able to thank her for everything she did for my daughters. And to this day she is still always there for them. She will always be family to me. The word legend is used far to loosely but in this case, it is warranted. Linda Kreiser is a legend.”

Avery Pollock, rising senior at Lower Dauphin, Liberty University commit

“Growing up and playing field hockey in middle school, my mom has always emphasized how great of a person Coach is. Whenever she came to watch me play when I was younger, I would think, this hockey legend is watching. It would make me nervous. I learned that she is such a great person. Playing under her and witnessing her coaching style, and just the way she is, she is a truly amazing person. I’m glad I got three years of that. I know she’s not leaving, but we’ll get some of that as she is a volunteer coach.

“Anyone in the hockey world could ask me where I play field hockey. I’d say Lower Dauphin and they’d say, where’s that? And, then I’d say I play for Coach Kreiser. And, they’d say, ‘oh, yeah, I’ve heard of her.’ They always have something good to say about her. Her greatest attribute is her passion for the game. And, she’s so humble. She is the most humble person I’ve ever met.”

Cathy Wreski, PIAA umpire and field hockey District 3 chair

“I’ve known her for 25 years: as a parent of a player, the president of her program’s field hockey boosters, as an umpire, and most importantly, a friend. Every characteristic that goes into being a true FRIEND is evident in the legacy she leaves at Lower Dauphin.

Fair: She never plays favorites and is a team leader

Reciprocates kindness: She gives more than she gets

Involved: She supports and is present in her relationship with the LD community

Educates: Her knowledge of field hockey rules teaches players, coaches, and umpires (without raising her voice)

Nurturing: Her availability of time is endless

Devoted: She shows up when you least expect it (at her players college games, with a gift, or with a heartfelt note of her appreciation).

She is certainly one of the GOOD ONES on the field hockey pitch!

Jeff Dewees, Hummelstown Sun reporter (broke the story on Kreiser’s retirement)

“I had covered her for five seasons. I knew of her, but I didn’t know her prior to me taking over the field hockey beat. Hummelstown is not a large town. Everybody in town knows who Linda Kreiser is. One of the things that always amazed me, at every single Falcons home game, with her as the head coach, it always amazed me when I stood on my spot, along the sideline, and I’d look up and see her name on the stadium while she’s still coaching. I had never seen that before or since for any coach on any level. I knew when I got into the field hockey beat for the Sun, and this is going to sound corny, but this is how I really feel. I knew I was in the presence of greatness in her profession. I never took speaking to Linda for granted. It would be like having daily access to Vince Lombardi. I haven’t encountered that or felt that way as a reporter and sports journalist. I knew in the moment I was in the presence of greatness in her field.”

This is part 1 of 2 about Coach Linda Kreiser.

Photo: Linda Kreiser, Marge Trout, Peg Kauffman and Shelly Behrens following Millersville’s NCAA Division II National Championship, submitted; Black and white, Linda Kreiser playing in college, submitted by Millersville University

Female Athlete News is honored to host FAN Presents: A Celebration of Girls and Women in Sports. Coach Kreiser is speaking at the event about Title IX, coaching, playing for USA Masters, and a little bit about herself.

Please join us to hear from a giant in the field hockey world. Tickets can be purchased here.

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