Severna Park field hockey Coach Lil Shelton has announced her retirement, ending a tenure that began in 1975 and included a national record 20 state championships in 37 seasons.
Shelton announced she would be stepping down at the Falcons’ end-of-season banquet Thursday night, five days after her team captured its 20th state title with a 3-1 win over Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the Maryland 4A state championship game on Saturday.
Marissa Balleza scored two goals as Severna Park won their Maryland-record 20th state field hockey championship.
According to Severna Park Athletic Director Wayne Mook, Shelton leaves with a 544-60-10 career record, 31 Anne Arundel County Championships and 29 regional titles.
“It’s been 36 years since I first started and I’ve had a great time,” Shelton said. “I just feel like I’ve done as much as I can do for the program. This is hard to do, but I feel like it’s the right time.”
Shelton started the field hockey program when she was a P.E. teacher at Severna Park, and at the time it was the only one in Anne Arundel County.
She coached her first state championship team in 1979 and the Falcons have been an area power ever since, capping a run of six state titles in seven years this season.
“She’s run an unbelievable program. Her record speaks for itself,” Mook said. “It’s probably one of the most successful programs in any sport in the state. The kids have always enjoyed being with her, and it’s just been an awesome experience all the way around.”
Shelton retired from teaching in 2000, and said she has considered stepping down from her coaching position for the past few years.
She said she will still remain closely connected to the program and her players, but she looks forward to no longer having to handle the day-to-day work.
“I’m going to be around,” Shelton said. “I’m not going to get my umbrella and stand off to the side like Mary Poppins. I’ll still be at every game.”
Mook said he will advertise for the vacancy, and hopes to begin the interview process shortly after the school’s Christmas break.