By: Christian Lynch
Dana Ramsden at Villanova (Picture courtesy of Villanova University)
Coming home isn’t always easy, but it sure feels good. Dana Ramsden, one of the greatest field hockey players ever to come out of Kingsway, recently has found this to be true.
She is in her first year as an 8th grade English teacher at Kingsway Middle School, and she also wrapped up her first season as the freshman field hockey coach. She already has experienced a bevy of emotions and situations that have emphasized how strange yet exciting it can be to come back and teach at your alma mater.
Ramsden had a storied career at Kingsway, both in field hockey and in softball. In field hockey, she is the all-time leading goal scorer in school history (81). She was a two-time area player of the year, as well as an All-State honoree.
She also was a four-year starter for the softball team. She was the female winner of the Dragon Award, given to the top athlete in Kingsway’s graduating class. She earned a field hockey scholarship to Villanova University and became a starter her freshman year.
Even after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the preseason of her second year, she later went on to become a many-time All-Big East and All-Region honoree.
After graduating from Villanova with a degree in secondary education and English, she took a long-term substitute teaching position at Haverford High School, while also being named the varsity field hockey head coach. She seemed to be set at Haverford……that is until she received word about an opening at her high school alma mater, Kingsway.
“I jumped at the opportunity to come back to Kingsway,” said Ramsden. “I gave up everything- my position at a good school, my head coaching position, everything.”
Ramsden interviewed and was hired in July. She immediately was contacted by Kingsway’s athletic director, Joe Galliera, about coaching the freshman team; she would also help out with the varsity and JV programs, too.
While she was used to handling mostly juniors and seniors as a varsity coach, she decided this opportunity could be a chance to grow, as well as an opportunity to give back to the program that gave so much to her.
While teaching and coaching at your alma mater lends itself to a high level of excitement, there are obstacles and barriers which must be confronted, some which Ramsden inevitably met. It was strange becoming colleagues with people that taught her.
The dynamics of those relationships obviously became different. While being on a first-name basis with them was (and sometimes is) an adjustment, the growth of the relationships with her former mentors has been eye-opening and refreshing.
Another big change, however, occurred out on the playing fields. The present coach, Sara Lewis, was not her coach, while she was at Kingsway. Ramsden was anxious to see how the present-day field hockey program compared to the program during her day. She wanted to see if the traditions and daily operations still were in play.
She was thrilled to find that Coach Lewis has continued the fine Dragon traditions but also has implemented some innovative changes which have augmented the program’s success. “Lew” also has become close with Ramsden, which bodes well for the future of the program.
“It’s neat to see how the perspective of the program has changed since the mid-2000s,” said Ramsden. “When I was a player, we had an underdog mentality that was trying to fight for respect, even though we were one of the top teams around. Today, everyone at Kingsway and outside of Kingsway knows that our program is an elite one. We are on the map, and no one takes us for granted!”
So what made Ramsden want to come full circle in the first place?
“I wanted to be a teacher since I was in second grade, ever since my mom got me an organizational kit of paper clips, pens, and other teaching materials, “ said Ramsden. “Also, Kingsway was so special to me. Teachers like Takiyah Dumas, my middle school English teacher, and Sallie Bill, my high school English teacher, inspired me.
“I wanted to make the type of impact on others the way they impacted me. To come back and see Ms. Dumas my first day was special. She was so emotional to see me, and I was, too. I knew I was home.”
At that moment, Dana Ramsden realized that the circle was complete.
She was back where she belonged.