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UNC Field Hockey: Karen Shelton announces her retirement

The legendary coach announced her retirement after 42 seasons and 10 national championships.

2022 Division I Field Hockey Championship Photo by Sean Elliot/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, we got the news that North Carolina Tar Heels field hockey coach Karen Shelton was retiring after a legendary career.

Shelton has been at the helm for 10 national championships, the most recent of which came just a few weeks ago when the Tar Heels eked out a 2-1 win over Northwestern. The victory gave Carolina the most ever national championships of any Division I field hockey program, breaking a tie with Old Dominion. Even more impressive is just how dominant Carolina has been of late. The 2022 title was UNC’s fourth in the last five year. The only blemish in that time came in 2021, where they fell to the eventual national champions.

Beyond the national success, Shelton led North Carolina to 25 ACC titles and is the winningest coach in NCAA field hockey history. Plenty of her players have had success both at UNC and then at a higher level with the US national team. The field hockey stadium in Chapel Hill was named in her honor back in 2018.

UNC has been quite blessed to have many legendary coaches over the years, but you have to put Shelton right up there. The Tar Heels’ coaching Mount Rushmore is a crowded one, but she’s right there with Dean Smith, Anson Dorrance, and several others who have been icons of their particular sport.

Whoever ends up taking over the North Carolina field hockey program is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. However, they’ve been given quite a platform to start off from thanks to the legendary career of Karen Shelton.