Marianne Paparone had a long and very successful career as the varsity field hockey coach at Plymouth Whitemarsh High.
But, nothing lasts forever.
A few years ago, Paparone decided it was time to call it quits — time to retire and pursue other interests.
"Two years ago, I had a pretty good team here at Plymouth Whitemarsh,' said Paparone. "And, it was my 25th year of coaching. So, I figured that it was a pretty good time for me to retire.'
But, after just one season of being away from the Colonials' sideline, Paparone is back as Plymouth Whitemarsh's head field hockey coach.
"I wasn't coaching last year,' said Paparone. "I was definitely retired as a coach. I watched a lot of games. I saw a lot of my former players compete for their colleges. Ellen (former P-W assistant coach Ellen Reily) and I went on a lot of road trips.'
Paparone also watched a number of Colonials' games when last year's coach Andrea Carr was in charge.
"Since I'm assistant athletic director for girls, I watched our home games,' said Paparone. "I really never expected to come back.'
But, a coaching change was in the works after last season and Paparone was thrust back into the picture.
"Charlie (P-W athletic director Charlie Forster) twisted my arm,' said Paparone. "He kept asking me to take the position. So, I decided to give it a shot and accepted the job last winter. It's a small senior class — Sierra Spencer, Monica Mellon, Morgan Nagy, Rachel Konowal and Courtney Konowal — so I kind of came back for them.'
Rachel Konowal, the oldest twin, said, "Having Miss P. back helps a lot. I think we're all on the same page this year — orking hard and working together as one big team.'
The Konowal sisters are definitely enjoying the return of Paparone — and the return of P-W to serious winning ways.
As of Sunday, Courtney Konowal was the leading scorer in the Suburban One League (including National, American and Continental conferences) and her sister Rachel was ranked second. Courtney has 45 points on 16 goals and 13 assists while Rachel has 43 points on 14 goals and 15 assists.
That's not all.
Plymouth Whitemarsh's Aurora Mills is ranked eighth with 22 points on nine goals and four assists and the Colonials are sitting atop the American Conference standings with a perfect 7-0-0 conference record.
Paparone started her coaching career as an assistant coach at Hatboro-Horsham for three years and then moved to Wisshaickon as head coach.
"Getting the coaching job at Wissahickon was a pretty big deal for me,' said Paparone. "My parents taught at Wissahickon — both for 25 years plus. My dad was an art teacher and my mom taught in the elementary school.'
Paparone played field hockey, basketball and tennis for the Trojans and was inducted into the Wissahickon High Sports Hall of Fame a few years ago.
She also played field hockey and tennis at Gettysburg College where she majored in sociology. She is also in Gettysburg's Hall of Fame as part of the Bullets' 1980 national championship field hockey squad.
"After Gettysburg, I got a masters' degree in education from Temple University,' said Paparone. "When I was coaching at Wissahickon, a teaching position and the field hockey coaching position opened up at Plymouth Whitemarsh. So, I moved to P-W and taught western civilization.'
The rest is history.
Paparone spent 17 years in her previous stint as PW's coach and took the team to the District One playoffs every year but one. She also took the Colonials to the state tournament twice and reached the quarterfinals one of those years before bowing out to Emmaus.
Now, it's time for new history to be made.
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Spring-Ford's Gabby Major has to be the area's favorite field hockey player — at least in the eyes of hat-makers. On Monday, Spring-Ford won its fifth straight game with Major scoring three goals and adding two assists in a 6-1 win over Perkiomen Valley Monday. It marked Major's fourth hat trick in the Rams' last five games.
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The first half of the Suburban One League American Conference season has been completed and Wissahickon appears to be the only team with a realistic shot at catching the Colonials.
PW is in first place with an unblemished 7-0-0 record and 21 points. Wissahickon is in second place at 6-1-0 (18 points) while Norristown is third at 4-3-0 (12 points).
North Penn is currently buried in sixth place in the SOL Continental Conference at 2-5-0 (6 points) — well off the pace of conference leader Central Bucks South (7-0-0, 21 points).
The National Conference has a three-way tie for first place featuring Council Rock North, Council Rock South and Neshaminy — all with 6-1-0 records and 18 points.
Other local girls among the Suburban One League's scoring leaders are Wissahickon's Stacie Rocco, who is ranked fifth with 27 points on 13 goals and one assist, and Norristown's Vanessa Fosco, who is ranked 12th with 17 points on six goals and five assists.