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Panthers Celebrate 100 Years of Field Hockey with 17th Win

Although rain forced the cancellation of the alumnae game, generations of Panthers felt right at home watching Valerie Dayton's 2012 squad reel off its 17th win of the year.

Dorothy (Bond) Cobb can still feel the pain in her shins every now and then.

When Cobb played field hockey for Collingswood High School, she wasn’t equipped with the same safety equipment today’s players have. So it is no wonder that when Cobb, who played for the Panthers from 1943-46, bumps into something and feels a pain in the shins, she is reminded of her playing years.

“My shins still hurt anytime they get hit,” said Cobb. "We didn't have the shin guards and goalies didn't have masks. It was a different game."

Cobb’s story is just one of the dozens that were shared this weekend as the Collingswood field hockey program celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Panthers past and present gathered for the celebration, sharing stories of the old days and days yet to come. Some former players spoke of their children's children now playing, while others enjoyed laughs at the photos of the old equipment and uniforms.

The weekend was all about pride in the navy and white, and sharing in the glory that has been 100 years of rich tradition.

“I think it’s great,” said Cobb, who went by ‘Dotty’ and played wing in high school. “I didn’t think it would last this long; I really didn’t.”

One of Cobb’s former teammates, Ruth (Selm) Afford was also at the event reminiscing about her playing days.

“I played basketball, hockey and swimming at Collingswood,” said Afford, who still lives in Collingswood. “I loved school.”

Afford also loved field hockey. Even after her playing days were over, she returned to the park frequently to watch games.

“I used to push my baby carriage over to watch the games,” Afford said. “I never wanted to miss them."

When Cobb and Afford played, Collingswood's big rivals were Haddonfield, Moorestown, Paulsboro and Bridgeton. Haddonfield remains a rival, while Haddon Township and West Deptford have entered the mix.

Some of the Collingswood-West Deptford games were of particular interest for Cobb, who later moved to West Deptford where her thee daughters picked up the sport. She can still remember being conflicted when the two Colonial Conference teams squared off.

“When West Deptford played Collingswood, I never knew who to root for,” said Cobb with a laugh. “Half the game I would go for Collingswood and the other half I would go for West Deptford.”

Cobb and Afford also played during an era where raising the sticks the way players can now was strictly forbidden.

“They get away with murder now,” Afford said.

The celebration weekend got off to a rough start due to Mother Nature. An alumni game scheduled for Friday had to be canceled, disappointing a group of returning players. But spirits quickly picked up when the players met for dinner.

“I think the weekend has been a huge success,” said Collingswood coach Valerie Dayton. “It was a really nice turnout and I think a lot of people got to catch up with people they hadn’t seen in years.”

Dayton was a little busy during the afternoon, coaching her team to its 17th victory of the season, over Audubon. But once the final whistle blew, Dayton beheld the sea of Panthers fans, many of whom once wore the same uniforms.

“After the game I definitely got to see some of the families,” Dayton said. “I will be interested to see all of the pictures to see who was here. I think we had a really good turnout.”

With 100 years of tradition being celebrated and the current team playing as good as ever, it truly was an event to remember.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Dayton.

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