Get to know Northwestern field hockey coach Tracey Fuchs

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Daily File Photo by Joshua Hoffman

North West field hockey head coach Tracey Fuchs celebrates returning to Evanston after winning the program’s first national championship.


Field hockey


Tracey Fuchs, one of the most iconic field hockey players in sports history and head coach of Northwestern’s field hockey team, grew up playing against boys.

“There was no ice hockey for the girls, so I played a lot of street hockey with the guys next door,” Fuchs said. “I grew up playing field hockey, then we would switch to football, then we would go to a baseball field, so I was always doing (sports) from the age of five.”

Fuchs was the University’s field hockey coach for 13 seasons. She led the Wildcats to an 18-5 record and the first national championship in program history on November 21, 2021, after successful titles as a player at the University of Connecticut and coach at the University from Michigan.

Junior midfielder Sophie Thomas said many people call Fuchs “the Michael Jordan” of field hockey, given his storied career and championship pedigree.

Thomas said Fuchs particularly cares about his players and constantly encourages them to speak up.

“I’m an introvert so (Fuchs) is always like ‘what do you think, Sophie?’ which is helpful if I’m like ‘oh, I don’t know if I should say something,’” Thomas said.

She credits Fuchs with inspiring many of her players and giving them leadership opportunities.

Fuchs stressed the importance of mental health amid recent tragedies surrounding athletes such as Stanford University football captain Katie Meyer.

She said many athletes don’t want to admit they’re struggling, which makes monitoring her players all the more important.

“I think the best part about this generation is that they see their mental health and we consider their mental health to be as important as their physical health,” Fuchs said. “We have to keep finding ways to keep our athletes mentally healthy.”

Junior midfielder Ana Medina Garcia said as an international student it was intimidating coming to the United States barely speaking English in her freshman year, but Fuchs made her transition smoother.

She said Fuchs has a willingness to listen and his coaching style constantly encourages people to push themselves.

“He’s a person who really cares about what we personally do,” Garcia said. “She always provides those spaces to talk…so she’s been very helpful in building (the) culture that we have within the team.”

As this summer marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Fuchs also called out discrepancies in the treatment of male and female athletes and said the United States still faces significant issues regarding gender equity in the sport.

One such example is the recent controversy surrounding men’s and women’s basketball in the NCAA tournament, she said. The women’s weight room had significantly less equipment, resources, and space than the men’s weight room, reflecting the budget inequities between men’s and women’s basketball.

“If I had been born a man, I would have been a 5-time Olympian,” Fuchs said. “It’s those things that drive me to fight.”

Fuchs said she knew this year’s squad was going to be special even before the start of preseason. She credited NU’s draw in the NCAA Tournament as a watershed moment.

She said she thought having to play against the University of North Carolina would be the toughest game of the tournament. Seeing how excited her team was to face the defending NCAA champion proved that the players had the right mindset heading into the tournament.

“You’re so proud to see the smiles on their faces and all the hard work they put in (to win an NCAA title),” Fuchs said. “This pandemic has hit everyone really hard. So to see all the hard work pay off…I was so proud of them and so excited to bring a championship back to Northwestern.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @andresbuena01

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