For 13 years the Mainland Mustangs field hockey team has been led by one of their former players, Jill Hatz, a 2002 graduate of the Linwood school.

Sports have always been a part of Hatz's life and a big part of her family. She started playing and fell in love with playing field hockey in the seventh grade and from that time on, she always knew she wanted to teach and work with kids.

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"I grew up watching my aunt and uncle coach," Hatz explained. "My mom, until she passed, coached my basketball and softball teams in Northfield. I guess you can say it is in my blood. I was always surrounded by adults who helped kids."

On Friday, Hatz announced she is stepping down as the Mustangs field hockey coach, deciding to spend more time with her family, specifically her daughters, Raylee (9) and Annalee (6).

"I cannot get time with them back," Hatz said. "In the off-season, I am their chauffeur to dance classes, pianos lessons, soccer games, and friends' houses. This winter, I am coaching my oldest in travel basketball for EHT. The demands of parenting, teaching, and coaching were increasing and I could no longer give 110% to each. My little girls have one momma to take care of them, coach them, and teach them about life."

The Mustangs ended her final season 10-10-1, losing to Toms River South in the First Round of the South Jersey Group III NJSIAA Tournament.

Hatz, who is a Math Teacher at Mainland, says she remembers her first win like it was yesterday.

"I just went to look it up," Hatz said. "It was a 4-2 win over Oakcrest in our first game during the 2009 season. Kassie Barrett scored a goal and Jenn Eisenberg scored three.  Taylor Tapp had three saves and recorded the win. I honestly don't remember the game, but it is cool to look back and see these names and remember the girls they played with that season."

Like most coaches who step away, this was not an easy decision. Hatz says she will always remember and cherish the moments and memories she made at Mainland.

"Mainland is my second home," said Hatz. "Making this an extremely hard decision. I am going to miss my time with the team, my coaches, opposing coaches who became friends, refs, media, etc. Mr. Gatley was a huge part of our success. He has had my back since day one. His guidance and passion for athletics drove us to do our best every season. This experience was so much more than field hockey to me. But. Someone else can coach these girls and do just as well."

As for her favorite moment at coach at her alma mater?  She couldn't come up with just one,  working with, teaching, and coaching kids for that amount of time makes it hard to narrow it down, which is understandable.

"It's impossible to pick a favorite," Hatz admitted. "There are so many that stand out and you can't really compare them all, since they're all special in their own ways."

One of her top wins came in 2013 when her Mustangs ended a 20-year curse by beating Ocean City. Another memorable victory, she wasn't even there for, when Mainland beat EHT in overtime.

"I was in the hospital after having my first baby," Hatz said. "Our Disney trips are loaded with memories - our team pictures on rides, hanging out at the hotels, and so many laughs. Our team banquets are always special nights. Trips to see former players in their college games. We did a lot together over the years."

Hatz leaves with a record of 155-91-12 in 13 seasons at Mainland.

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