Lydia Garcia Mark, the new coach of the Elizabeth Seton High School field hockey team, is part of an ever-growing family legacy, one that dates back nearly 40 years.
Mark, an assistant the past two seasons, is the granddaughter of the late Maureen Lonergan, a former Seton athletics director and coach who worked at the Bladensburg school from 1977 to 1994. Lonergan was so highly regarded that following her death in 1995, she became the namesake of Seton's prestigious athletic award (Maureen Lonergan Coaches Award) and its multi-purpose field (Lonergan Field).
Mark's mother, aunts and cousins attended Seton, and her older sister Lina Garcia Martin (Class of 2001) helped launch field hockey at the school.
“It's a family institution. You can't escape it,” said Mark, a Seton graduate (2007) and ex-Roadrunners field hockey player.
Seton fielded a club team in 2000, when Martin was a senior.
“We didn't win a single game, but we had a lot of fun. And we had girls come out from all [grade] levels,” said Martin, who grew up in Bowie and resides in South Pasadena, Calif.
The club became a varsity team in 2002 and has continued developing since, reaching the finals in 2008.
“It was nice to hear that regular kids at a regular place could pick up a field hockey stick their freshman year and still be confident enough to get to a championship level. It was a real testament to the program,” Martin said.
Seton is Prince George's County's lone WCAC field hockey team, and the county's public high schools do not have any varsity squads. St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel recently stopped fielding a team.
Though the Roadrunners haven't made a deep playoff run since 2008, Mark is hoping the team can get back to the top of the competitive WCAC. Mark said that eight varsity players are returning; key contributors for the upcoming season include Marguerite Matta, Michaela Schmidt and Megan Kotelchuck, Mark said.
“We have a really good, strong senior class with good leaders in it, and I'm really looking forward to working with them,” said Mark, who played at St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Mark replaces Delia Barr, who stepped down after one season, according to athletic director Candy Cage.
“[Mark] is the one who came to me and said, 'I want this job. I'm ready, I want it,'” Cage said.