Sports are often a family affair. Parents pass their love of a sport to their children and, in some instances, compete together on the same field. Baseball’s Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. hit back-to-back home runs as teammates on the Seattle Mariners in 1990, for instance. Catholic University, too, can boast of a remarkable familial athletic tradition — with sophomore field hockey star Michele Repass showing great potential for writing the latest chapter. Four of her relatives — from her mother to her great-great-grandfather — have already been inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I’m learning more about my family legacy as I go along,” says Repass, the Capital Athletic Conference rookie of the year in 2004. “It’s an awesome thing to be a part of.”
During the fall 2005 field hockey season, Repass led the Cardinals with 12 goals, earning second-team All-Capital Athletic Conference honors, and, early in the season, being named Division III field hockey player of the week. The Cardinals finished 11-7, advanced to the CAC championship game for the first time ever and reached the semifinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament.
“Michele is big, strong and fast,” CUA coach Gia Cillizza recently told the Maryland Gazette. “She can crush the ball on her shot — so much so that the defense is often running for cover during practice. She also has great vision on offense and will just as easily make a smart pass as take it in herself.”
Repass’ family tree includes the following CUA Hall of Famers:
- Michele’s great-great-grandfather, Fred Rice, was the first men’s basketball coach at Catholic University. From 1911 to 1930, he led his teams to 176 wins.
- Rice’s son, Fred Rice Jr., is Repass’ great-great-uncle. He starred on the basketball court, spurring the 1943–44 squad to a 17-7 record and the university’s first-ever NCAA tournament invitation.
- Great-grandfather Wilfred Howell excelled in football, boxing and track and field. He went on to play pro football for the NFL’s Boston Bulldogs.
- Michele’s own mother, Sharon Hodges Repass, B.S.N. 1981, became the first woman to be inducted into the CUA Athletic Hall of Fame. A basketball standout, she was the first CUA woman to score 1,000 career points and the first to grab 1,000 rebounds. She still holds school records for career rebounds (1,227) and rebounds per game (13.5).
After leading her Poolesville (Md.) High School team to two state championship games, Michele Repass checked out different colleges and was drawn to the spirit of camaraderie among CUA field hockey players.
“I looked at a couple Division I schools, but here at CUA I have a life,” she says. “I liked Gia and met the whole team during my campus visit and really liked the family atmosphere.”
With two years remaining in her college career, Michele seems intent on being a good teammate and leader rather than seeking Hall of Fame accolades.
“I’ve always thought my mom was a leader,” Michele says. “Coach [Cillizza] says I’m a leader and I’d like teammates to see me as a good leader.”
“I’m very competitive and Michele is, too,” says Sharon. “I didn’t know Fred Rice Sr., so [the family legacy] wasn’t well known to me at the time I attended, though it was in the back of my mind. It means more to me now than it did when I was 22 years old.” – M.B.
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