Spotlight: Ann Arbor Pioneer Girls Field Hockey Wins State Title

Pioneer Girls Field Hockey (4Frenzy)

Coach Jane Nixon

  • Favorite Place in Metro Detroit: The Riverwalk Path. The Detroit Riverfront is a great run. The Detroit Marathon is another really great event. I’ve been crew team only for that one…helping with water stations, etc.
  • Did you play sports as a kid/student?: I played field hockey, volleyball, and ran track in high school at Greenhills in Ann Arbor. All of my high school coaches and teams shaped who I am today. My coaches, Roxy Block and Leslie Frye (current Chelsea Coach) helped guide the process of playing at the University of Michigan. To this day, some of my closest friends are high school and collegiate teammates. I played Detroit Club for a long time after playing at Michigan, but I hung up my cleats and now I’m on the DWD Trail Running Team, where we do different trail runs…'dances with dirt,’ etc.
  • Tips on Doing Well in Sports or School: Believe in others and yourself, build each other up, stay positive and motivated even on those rainy days, make each day count, there will be good days, bad days, listen, learn, get out of your head and into your body, enjoy the journey, grow!
  • Pre-Game Rituals: Show up ready to go!

Jane Nixon, head coach of the Pioneer Girls Field Hockey team, is also a teacher at Pioneer High School. She has been coaching at Pioneer since 1990 and teaching at Pioneer since 1998.

“I’m still the new kid on the block,” Nixon joked. “Don Sleeman (Cross Country and Track) has coached over 50 years at Pioneer.”

Pioneer Girls Field Hockey, along with other Pioneer athletics, is proud of its athletic accomplishments and has instilled a sense of athletic pride and excellence in the community.

“Our teams at Pioneer have strong traditions and a community of former athletes filled with purple pride,” Nixon said.

“Many of our athletes have gone on to play at the collegiate level to become captains, big ten champions, national champions, and/or continue to be involved in the sport as a rec and ed youth coach for their own kids, high school coaches, club coaches, and we have a few collegiate coaches in the mix as well,” said Nixon.

“We’ve had several achievements and awards through the years from All Academic awards in the state, All State awards, Roxy Block Award, and High School All American awards,” said Nixon.

The players are committed to the hard work that it takes to be a successful team. The mindset of giving maximum effort starts with the team captains and trickles down to the rest of the team, thus establishing a culture of teamwork, hard work and passion.

“Every team has its own personality,” said Nixon. “I love this team! They are the ‘boot camp’ team! One day early in the season we met on the track for practice, which usually means a hard running day. Typically, this is met with some serious looks from players. Not this team. When I arrived on the track, they were spirited and jumping around with a motivated, energized ‘boot camp day’ cheer! This belief in hard work comes from our leaders and captains Natalie Millman and Kate Soldan and our entire team who embraces the true meaning of effort, no short cuts and the belief that every day counts.”

This culture in Pioneer’s Girls Field Hockey team is established by a long history of success. Last season, the Pioneers held a record of 15-0 through the regular season but suffered a loss in the state championship against longtime rivals, Skyline, which was their only loss of the season.

This season, Pioneer got revenge on Skyline when they clashed again in the state championship game and pulled out a 2-1 victory to capture their 26th state championship in school history.

“Honestly, I’m completely humbled and blessed to be part of such an amazing community of athletes and families (past and present) who motivate and inspire me every day,” Nixon said. “What I love about coaching is that it’s real, it’s concrete, it’s physical, it’s face to face, it’s players competing together, because they believe in hard work and they believe in each other, they believe in the team and you know deep inside to your core you got each other! There’s nothing glamorous here, but there’s something incredibly special.”

We would like to thank our sponsors Detroit Area Honda Dealers, Concordia University and Meijer for their support!

About the Author:

Isaiah is an MSU grad working as an intern in the Creative Services Department this fall.