This year, one of Rowan University Athletics’ own will be entering and permanently residing in the storied halls of the greats of college sports.
Former Rowan University field hockey head coach and current Associate Athletic Director Penny Kempf will be heading into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Hall of Fame with the Class of 2020.
“I am humbled by it,” Kempf said. “I greatly appreciate it because I have seen who have been inducted before me.”
Kempf’s career as the head of Rowan’s field hockey program began in 1998. She would go on to spend 17 years as head coach and during her almost two-decade-long tenure would rack up 253 wins, making her the coach with the most wins in Rowan field hockey history. Her career record ranks her 18th in career winning percentage (.775) across all NCAA divisions and ninth among Division III coaches.
In addition, Rowan made 12 trips to the NCAA tournament under Kempf’s leadership. In 2002, after a 21-0 season, Kempf led the Profs to the NCAA Division III championship and claimed victory, while also grabbing many top coaching titles for herself to round off the already triumphant season. That win was the first and only national title to this day for a Rowan women’s team.
Kempf believes those accolades and her induction into the Hall of Fame haven’t just come from her coaching abilities, but also from the members of those teams — like the one she led to the national championship — who believed in her every step of the way.
“It’s just all of your players buying into what you have to say,” Kempf said. “You don’t become a hot coach without players.”
Kempf has seen 27 of those student-athletes win All-American honors, 53 earn All-Region recognition and 77 in total hailed as All-Conference performers in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
Kempf has spent her career as someone to look up to, but she couldn’t have gotten to where she is today without some guidance in her own life. Kempf took her experiences with former Director of Athletics Joy Solomen, who was in charge at the time of her hire, and her predecessor as head coach, Mary Marino, and molded herself into the coaching legend she is now recognized for.
“Those are two women who were mentors to me and taught me how to be successful,” Kempf said.
Kempf will be officially inducted into the NFHCA Hall of Fame at the next in-person NFHCA Awards dinner. As her name is immortalized, Kempf will hold the honor as something the entirety of Rowan can share.
“It’s not a reflection of me as a coach,” Kempf said. “It’s a reflection of all our athletes. It’s great for Rowan field hockey.”
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