Teacher by Day, Big 10 Field Hockey Commentator by Night


Emily Luethy, Editor-in-chief

According to Social Science and EL teacher, Jeanne Shin-Cooper, field hockey has been a part of her life since she was ten years old: over three decades. 

“It was always an outlet to express my emotions in a fun, competitive way.  I really hustled in high school to try to get recruited to a Division I program and was fortunate enough to represent the University of Michigan as a walk-on student-athlete,” Shin-Cooper said.

Shin-Cooper’s coaches took an unranked team and guided them to not one, but two Big Ten Championships and a finish at the NCAA Finals for the first time in program history. After her four years, she attended graduate school at Northwestern University and then was offered a second Assistant position from a coach that knew her from years before back in high school.

“It’s hard to convey how much gratitude I have toward my coaches because I arrived as a very raw player, and they molded me into a three-year starter,” Shin-Cooper said.

“I learned that building the foundation, putting in the work, and doing a fantastic job the first time around pays dividends down the line.””

— Social Science & EL Teacher Jeanne Shin-Cooper

Although the thought of commentating never crossed her mind until she was approached, her knowledge of the game has made Shin-Cooper a welcome addition to the Big Ten Network field hockey team. 

At the time, I had a teammate from the Chicago Field Hockey Club working at the Big Ten Network office downtown.  The producer was looking for another voice to add to field hockey and she offered my name,” Shin-Cooper said. “ I was added to complement the fantastic and already seasoned commentator Kara Lentz.”

According to Shin-Cooper, Lentz, a veteran of over ten years, mentored her the first couple of seasons. Additionally, the producer really appreciated that not only did she know the game, but that she was used to performing in front of an audience as an educator. She was explicitly told to “teach the game” to viewers. 

To prepare for a broadcast, Shin-Cooper watches previously recorded games and takes notes on every detail about players, team formation, special plays, and trends.

Preparation is paramount and requires a lot of time and work,” Shin-Cooper said. “I spend time researching individual and team stats and also read all the articles on the teams.  Finally, I interview coaches over Zoom to get a deeper understanding of the team culture and goals.” 

According to Shin-Cooper, the interviews are very helpful and important. Additionally, the game time requires her to show up to the studio two hours before the broadcast to go over the notes with her play-by-play partner and complete pre-recorded segments. Initially, she was very nervous and anxious before going on air, however, after a couple of seasons she now enjoys and welcomes this challenge a little more. 

It’s a reminder that it’s okay to be uncomfortable because being in the discomfort leads to getting stronger emotionally and mentally in the end,” Shin-Cooper said.  “I have really enjoyed the process of digging deep and facing my fears as well as the realization that I need to be kinder to myself and not sweat the small stuff.”