Repass: A family tradition

Monday, Oct. 10, 2005

by James Peters
Staff Writer
The Gazette

Since joining the Catholic University field hockey team last fall, former Poolesville High standout Michele Repass has been nothing short of spectacular. But really that's no surprise - she's just living up to her family's legacy of athletic success at the Washington, D.C. college.

After earning Gazette Player of the Year honors in the fall of 2003, when she led the Falcons to the Class 1A state final for the second straight year with 18 goals and 15 assists, Repass, a hard-striking forward, became the first Catholic field hockey player to earn Capital Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors last fall.

Repass started all 19 of the Cardinals' matches and produced seven goals and seven assists, which landed her on the second team of the All-CAC.

‘‘Michele is big, strong and fast," said Catholic field hockey coach Gia Cillizza. ‘‘She can crush the ball on her shot - so much so that the defense is often running for cover during practice. As a freshman, she was an eager and quick contributor who comfortably stepped into the shoes of second-team All-American Stephanie Roselle, who graduated in 2003.

‘‘Some players start off strong and fizzle out by season's end; Michele is just the opposite. She has gotten better and better. And she's willing to learn and adjust. She is also one of the few true attackers I've seen to pass as much as she does. While she could take the ball herself, often times she'll make lead, flat and even back passes if she thinks that's the smartest thing to do. Sometimes I have to tell her not to pass."

Repass has continued her high-scoring pace this season. Through last Wednesday's, 2-1 loss to Salisbury (the STX⁄FHCA Division III National Coaches Poll's No. 1-ranked team), Repass had hit for a team-high 10 goals with three assists for a team-high 23 points. Three of those goals were of the game-winning variety.

‘‘[The transition from high school to college] has been pretty easy," Repass said. ‘‘My high-school coach [Regina Grubb] always trained us very well in the preseason. I think she did a great job. The only change is playing with new people."

Benefiting from her strong offensive play, Catholic, ranked 15th in the country, had rolled out to a 9-2 overall record and a 3-1 mark in the CAC.

‘‘Michele is a hard-driving, tough hockey player," Cillizza said. ‘‘She doesn't back down from anyone and has really stepped up her defensive skills since she came on board."

Leading the way at Catholic is nothing new for Repass' family, of which four members are inducted into the school's athletics Hall of Fame.

Michele's great, great grandfather, Fred Rice, who was inducted in 1982, was the school's first men's basketball coach, a post he held from 1912-1930. Her great grandfather, Wilfred Howell, was inducted in 1978 for his exploits in football, track & field and boxing in the late 1920s. Great, great uncle, Fred Rice Jr., joined his father in 1996 after being a standout on the men's basketball team in the 1940s.

Michele's mother, Sharon Repass, Poolesville's junior-varsity field hockey coach, was the first woman to be inducted into the Catholic Hall of Fame in 1988 in recognition of her sterling basketball career. She scored 1,349 points and had 1,227 rebounds. She was the first woman in school history to score 1,000 points and her 1,227 rebounds and her average of 13.5 rebounds per game are still school records.

‘‘At the time, in 1976, the first women's scholarships for Title IX [were being offered]," Sharon Repass said. ‘‘I did get a full scholarship. I had a great time there. It was a great time to be in women's sports. We definitely were competitive.

‘‘We played all the local schools - Georgetown, Howard, George Washington - except Maryland. We had some local rivalries. We held our own pretty well. There were a lot of local girls on the team. It was fun. [We played against] people we played against in high school."

Sharon Repass said Catholic ‘‘was a good fit for me" because of its location near her home and because of its size. She attended Holy Cross in high school, where she played under the late Bill Sheehan during a time when the program was extremely competitive.

Sharon added that the fact that her grandfather and great uncle also attended the school played a factor in her decision as well. ‘‘To go where my family went, that's cool," she said. ‘‘I'm glad I did."

Michele chose Catholic for similar reasons although she chose to play field hockey over basketball, a sport she also excelled at during her time at Poolesville. She, in fact, was a four-year starter and holds the school's career assist and steal marks.

‘‘I really enjoyed my coach [Cillizza] and my mom knew a lot of people here and it's only an hour from my house," said Michele, who is Poolesville's career goal and assist leader. ‘‘My team was very close at Poolesville. I wanted that same atmosphere.

‘‘I never really realized [how many family members attended Catholic]. It's really cool."

How cool would it be if Michele could join those same family members in the Catholic Hall of Fame?

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