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Trent Brown | The News & Observer | August 20, 2019

North Carolina field hockey team won the national title last season. Here's how it became a student documentary

North Carolina takes home the 2018 DI field hockey championship

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — 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 aired Monday night 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."

'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 its eventual 2-0 championship win.

FIELD HOCKEY HISTORY: The 5 programs with the most national championships

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. 

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

This article is written by Trent Brown from The News & Observer and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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