End of an Era for GMHS Field Hockey

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Photo courtesy of Kathleen Olchowski

Sandy Wickman Mason and Jody Bascetta retire, but their legacy reaches far beyond Granby.

Seventeen years, 272 wins, 12 State Championship appearances, Seven Class S State Titles.

Impressive numbers but numbers don’t tell the whole story. Numbers don’t show the hours spent planning, practicing, and starting over when the plan needs a reboot. Numbers don’t show the time away from home and work. Luckily, these numbers do show time spent with family—as volunteers, colleagues, coaches, and mentors—for the Wickman sisters, Jody Bascetta and Sandy Wickman Mason.

The sisters and Granby Field Hockey go back a long way. Their mom, Jerry, started the Granby Memorial Middle School program. Both sisters played at GMHS for Dot Johnson—Jody was a sophomore when the Bears won the first Field Hockey State Championship in Connecticut in 1973, and Sandy was a junior when Granby won its third title five years later. Later, Bascetta served as an assistant coach under Johnson.

In 2002, when Johnson, also the GMHS athletic director, hung up her whistle, her first thought to carry on Granby’s winning tradition was former player, Sandy Wickman Mason. Mason agreed, with one stipulation— “I’m not doing it unless Jody’s doing it.” The Granby Field Hockey dynasty was primed to continue; the sisters led Granby to seven more championships over the next 17 years. 

More important is the impact they had on their players over the years. “Even after you graduated from Granby Field Hockey, you still belonged. You’d always belong,” says Abby Bascetta, who played for her mom and aunt. “They were my biggest supporters and my toughest critics,” she says.“They always pushed me to be the absolute best player, teammate, and leader I could be.” 

Twenty-six of their players went on to play collegiate field hockey. They kept a connection with their high school coaches. Liza Ruggiero, GMHS ’09, is one of those players. She went on to play for Tufts University and says, “When [Tufts] won the National Championship during my senior year, I texted Sandy. In fact, I think she was one of the first people I texted. As a person who had impacted my development in so many positive ways, I was so excited to share this moment with her.”

Former players talk about Wickman Mason’s and Bascetta’s in-depth knowledge of the sport and their competitive nature; but the repeating theme is their conviction that team building is paramount to success on and off the field. “I think one reason they were so successful was because they really valued building a team environment that felt like a family…drama was not tolerated,” says alumni Alana King, GMHS ‘20.

Parents recognized the sisters’ impact on their daughters as players and people. They had “high expectations for everyone…[they] worked together to motivate their players to achieve their goals,” says Kathleen Olchowski whose two daughters played for GMHS, graduating in 2016 and 2020. “They made every player feel like an important part of the team, with an important role to play.”

King also remembers how serious and competitive the sisters were. “They knew the importance of conditioning,” she says. Not many athletes truly enjoy conditioning, but she remembers that “while conditioning wasn’t always a fun part of practice, our fitness level was what made the difference in those close tournament games.”

Parents and players recognize the impact Wickman Mason and Bascetta had on their lives outside sport. “What Sandy and Jody taught the players will go well beyond the hockey field and influence these young women for a lifetime,” says Olchowski. “They can’t know how big of an impact they had on so many girls’ lives,” adds King, Daughter/niece Abby summarizes it best: “You didn’t just leave Granby Field Hockey a better player, you left a better person.”

Wickman Mason and Bascetta encouraged their girls to be their best. “Sandy’s high standards and commitment to excellence communicated to us – especially as young female athletes – that we were capable of pushing ourselves to greater heights than we may have initially expected. We learned about the value of working towards a goal greater than ourselves and… learned about the importance of leading with integrity.” shared Ruggiero. 

There is no greater lesson and no greater testament to these coaches than that. While they may have lost some on the pitch, in the game of life, coaches Sandy Wickman Mason and Jody Bascetta are undefeated in preparing their players for life. And for that, Granby should be thankful and proud.