There’s always been those ‘F’ words associated with Thanksgiving — family, food, friends and football.
Make that family, food, friends and field hockey in the Lowell family.
Ed and Pam Lowell’s support of daughters Emily and Allison in field hockey has been strong through the time they first picked up a stick at a very young age, through their playing days at Otter Valley Union High School and now into their coaching tenure at Castleton University.
This Thanksgiving the Lowell family has plenty to celebrate. Castleton, with Emily as the head coach and Allison as an assistant on her staff, captured the Little East Conference trophy in the league’s postseason field hockey tournament to earn the LEC’s NCAA tournament berth. It was the first LEC championship for the Spartans in any sport.
It all began when Emily and Lowell began to show a passion for the sport at an early age.
Emily is the oldest and Allison fell right in line. Emily wanted someone to pass the ball with before she went to practice. Allison obliged and soon caught her older sister’s passion for the game.
“Our parents got very involved. They wanted to support us and send us to field hockey camps,” Allison said. “They sent us to the Nike camp and camps at Middlebury and Castleton. They sent us everywhere we could go.”
They both played at Castleton where Emily scored 33 goals from 2015 through 2017 and Allison distributed the ball for 21 assists from 2017 through 2019.
When Emily got the head coaching job in July, her late appointment made it difficult to assemble a coaching staff.
“We always joked that I would never hire her as my assistant,” said Emily who got on an early coaching track as an assistant at the University of New Haven.
“I couldn’t find a graduate assistant after I got the job and Allison offered to help.
“She had never been interested in coaching but she showed up and started to have a lot of fun.
“That is kind of how it all started and she got more and more involved. She is a great assistant.”
Ed and Pam both graduated from Hartford High School where Heather Scudder is a legendary field hockey coach.
Not surprisingly, one of the camps that Ed and Pam sent their daughters to was Scudder’s camp at Hartford High.
Few people love the sport as much as Scudder. The Lowell sisters caught that same love for both playing and coaching the game.
“It has been a huge part of our life. We have the passion for the sport,” Emily said.
“We are both very different. Allison is just a born athlete. She didn’t have to work as hard as I did. That motivated me.”
It is the way that the entire family embraces the game that is most striking.
“We have a father who is obsessed with field hockey,” Emily said.
“The love of the sport is really big in our family. It is not just our parents but both grandparents, aunts and uncles are also big supporters,” Allison said.
The Spartans caught fire with a 7-1 pounding of Salem State that began a seven-game winning streak. It did not end until they fell to Tufts in the NCAA tournament.
The run through the Little East Tournament was magical. They won convincingly over Fitchburg State and Worcester State to earn their place in the LEC Championship game against No. 1 seed University of Southern Maine.
The game was hosted by the Huskies and Ed and Pam made the trip to Gorham, Maine.
“There was no hesitation. They said, ‘We are going to the game,’” Allison said.
After all, they had made it to all of the home games and many of the road contests through the season.
When they were unable to make the trip to Tufts for the NCAA game, Ed and Pam hosted a viewing party.
Allison said she will likely only be involved with local recruiting as she has a full time job working from home in medical analytics.
She takes notes at the Spartans’ Prospect Camps and will likely leave the recruiting beyond the area to Emily and a graduate assistant.
But Allison is committed to the program for the long haul.
“She’s not going anywhere,” Emily said.
“I love coaching the game and I still really miss playing it,” Allison said.
“I want to see the program thrive.”
Winning Castleton’s first Little East Conference title and being greeted by firetrucks and police cars upon coming off Exit 5 following the championship victory in Maine put an exclamation mark on a rewarding season.
It was all about family for Emily and Allison Lowell — the Castleton family and one of the biggest field hockey families anywhere in a home in Brandon.
Across America on Thanksgiving, the custom of pulling the wishbone will be executed. The Lowell household will more likely have a tug of war with a Grays field hockey stick.