UNC field hockey team took ‘Mary’ home last season. See the student documentary Monday

When Adrian Walker got the opportunity to travel to Louisville to cover the Tar Heels field hockey team in the national championship, he jumped at the chance.

Later, he found himself sitting across from freshman star Erin Matson, who led the team in goals and assists and was named ACC player of the year.

As he spoke with her, Matson turned and pointed at “Mary.”

Mary was the championship trophy that the field hockey team won — and named after the team they beat to win it, Maryland.

That was Walker’s favorite moment from working on what became a documentary about the team, which airs at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Aug. 19, in Karen Shelton stadium.

The UNC field hockey team went 23-0 last season on their way to their first championship season in a decade, winning 20 games by two or more goals.

They had lost in the semifinals or the championship game every year since 2009.

In the documentary, Coach Karen Shelton says, “If you don’t go [to the Final Four] in our program, it isn’t one of our best years.”
The UNC-Chapel Hill field hockey team won the 2018 NCAA tournament in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18, 2018. The N.C. Department of Transportation will put up eight highway signs around the state commemorating the championship. JEFFREY A. CAMARATI UNC ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

‘What about a documentary?’

The documentary starts at the end of the 2017 season, when UNC lost in the NCAA Semifinals to Connecticut in double overtime. It follows the team and coaches throughout the next year, to their eventual 2-0 championship win.

Walker, a senior, originally thought the extra footage he got from the championship game would be good for a long feature on the Sports Xtra weekly show.

Charlie Tuggle, the School of Media and Journalism senior associate dean, thought they could reach higher.

“What about a documentary?” asked Tuggle, who founded and teaches Sports Xtra..

Walker, Tuggle and a group of classmates began compiling footage from the season in March and spent months interviewing and piecing things together.

The editing process alone took the students over 200 hours, with Walker’s share around 50 hours. They finished their final edits only a couple of weeks ago.

Walker said that coach Karen Shelton “has been really awesome to us throughout the entire thing.”

After the championship, Shelton made sure Walker and classmate Moe Khaedi, who helped video the game, got championship gear.

Among the hats and other memorabilia, a giant championship banner now hangs from the Sports Xtra production room rafters.

“It feels like we’re honorary members of the team,” said Walker.

Tuggle said in an interview for a UNC press release: “Students across the country have produced highlights and maybe even talk shows, like Sports Xtra, but how many of them have produced documentaries? I think it gives them a leg up.”

The documentary is about 35 minutes long. You can register to attend the premiere at

Tuggle hopes they can get it to air on the ACC Network this fall. In the meantime, Walker says they will most likely put the documentary on YouTube after the premiere.

Related stories from Myrtle Beach Sun News

Trent Brown covers the Town of Cary and other odds and ends. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 and is a Collegiate Network fellow.