The first time I spoke with Susan Pusey, she gave me a lecture.
It was supposed to be a simple phone call probably to check a score or for a preview capsule, but instead it was a half-hour conversation about field hockey coverage — her passion.
Shawn Yonker told me how long she had been coach, and I knew she was going to be someone I would have to gain respect from as we launched our high school theme pages. I was in charge of the field hockey page.
Pusey had convinced me how important field hockey was to the community, especially Pocomoke.
It was always in the back of my mind that season.
The Warriors had a great 2014, winning the Bayside Championship, and the 1A east region, so I traveled to Annapolis for the semifinal matchup against Fallston.
“Oh so close” was the headline for the emotional overtime loss.
I went to work, scrambling to get the great game in the paper for Pusey and for Pocomoke. Overtime is never a deadline journalist’s friend.
Pusey was candid as ever.
“Too close, but not enough,” she said. “It’s hard. They played their hearts out.”
She continued how the core group of the team was young and next year would be promising.
“This prepares us for next year,” she said to her team. ” ‘Because none of you have been here, but you got a taste of it and know what it’s like.’ “
The recorder clicked off, and then my favorite Pusey conversation began, the off-the-record talk. It really wasn’t anything, but she thanked me.
It was simple as that. I felt like I accomplished the goal I set out to do — earn Susan Pusey’s respect.
We crossed paths one time during basketball season, we chatted, and I got back to the game.
We never got to speak again and those final conversations are something I cherish.
When I heard the news on July 19, it felt like I had lost someone I knew my whole life, despite only knowing Pusey for about a year.
That’s the type of person she was, and if she had that type of impact on me, I could only imagine how family, friends and players felt.
Needless to say, I was rooting for Pocomoke to win that state title.
On Saturday, with the weight of a community on their shoulders, the team Pusey talked about in her final game won the state championship in the most dominating fashion with the spirit of the late coach in their hearts and in their play.
Sitting at a high school playoff game in Delaware, I was glued to Twitter as Yonker, Justin Odendhal and principal Annette Wallace live-tweeted the game.
The Warriors finished the story with a happily-ever-after ending.
I went home, opened my nightstand drawer and pulled out Pusey’s funeral card.
All I could think or feel was wow.
On Twitter/Instagram: @ByRyanMarshall