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Karen Shelton - NCSHOF November Member of the Month

By Helen Ross and Rick Strunk, 11/26/18, 5:00AM EST


The long-time UNC-Chapel Hill field hockey coach celebrated her 61st birthday on Nov. 14 and then four days...

November has been quite a memorable month for Karen Shelton.

The long-time UNC-Chapel Hill field hockey coach celebrated her 61st birthday on Nov. 14 and then four days later her team won the NCAA championship, beating Maryland 2-0.

The national title was the seventh for UNC and Shelton, who has coached the Tar Heels since 1981. The shutout was the 10th of the season for Carolina and completed an undefeated season at 23-0 – just the third in UNC history.

The game also marked the seventh time that top-ranked UNC has played the Terrapins, who came into the game as the No. 2 seed, to decide the NCAA crown. The Tar Heels last won the national title in 2009 with a 3-2 win over Maryland.

In recognition of the impressive victory, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame has selected Shelton as its member of the month. She was inducted in 2010.

Shelton’s career record is a phenomenal 669-164-9. In addition to the seven titles, UNC has finished as the NCAA runner-up 11 times with Shelton as coach – reaching the title game in almost half of her 38 seasons at the helm.

Shelton, who was born in Honolulu, was an Army brat, moving multiple times during her early years. But her father retired from the military when she was 10 years old and the family settled in Pennsylvania.

That’s where Shelton began her life-long love affair with the sport of field hockey.

Shelton was a standout at West Chester State where she was a member of three national championship field hockey teams. Shelton, who also played on a lacrosse team that won it all, was named the field hockey national player of the year – not once but three times.

Not surprisingly, Shelton soon found herself on the United States national team, competing from 1977-84. She missed the 1980 Olympics due to the boycott of the Games in Russia but started on the U.S. team that earned a bronze medal four years later.

Two years after she took over as the UNC head coach, Shelton was still attaining accolades as a competitor – she was named USA Field Hockey’s 1983 Player of the Year.

In addition to the NCSHOF, Shelton is a member of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame (inducted in 2008) and the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame (1989). The latter was for her accomplishments as a player.

For more information on Shelton, click here: