My ears are starting to go.

It’s a natural part of getting a little older, of course. Loud noises distract me a little more. I often ask my wife to repeat things. I use closed-captioning on my television a lot more often.

Ironically, I use my ears more now. I want to hear more, while my ears are still relatively good. So I make a point to listen to more stories.

These past couple weeks, the stories were about Lynn Shostak.

To be honest, I had never heard of Lynn Shostak before she was inducted into the Maine Field Hockey Association’s Hall of Fame earlier this month. Then I heard the stories.

Shostak played at Cony, graduating in 1974, then played at the University of Maine for two seasons. She died in 1981, and her brother, John, choked up while speaking after accepting the award on her behalf.

“It was quite awhile ago that she passed on, but sometimes the wound gets re-opened — usually when someone says they’re sorry,” John said. “I know they mean well, but sometimes, it just gets you.”

John, Lynn, and all the Shostak children played sports at Cony. Their father, also named John, was unable to play sports in high school because of work, so he made a point to make sure his children took advantage of that opportunity he didn’t have.

In her second year at Maine, Lynn set the school’s single-season goal-scoring record, with 21. Here’s the remarkable thing: That record still stands.

Now, it’s pretty impressive when any record stands for nearly 40 years. But most of you probably don’t know just how different field hockey was at that time. That year, 1975, was the first year UMaine played any games outside of Maine.

Then there were the rules. Field hockey had an offsides rule at that time. If you’ve watched soccer recently, try to picture how much different the game would be without any players ever being called for offsides.

“That offsides rule was in effect inside the striking circle,” said Donna Jordan, who played with Lynn at UMaine. “You had to have two players between you and the goal if you were ahead of the ball.”

In field hockey, that changes how forwards score. Today, even a lot of high school teams simply send one player to stand by the goal post on penalty corners, just to be there for a deflection. Josette Babineau, the current coach at UMaine, told me at least 50 percent of the goals scored on penalty corners today are on redirections. Babineau also said she couldn’t imagine teams got anywhere near as many shots per game then as they do now.

That’s the remarkable thing: Over the entire season, Lynn Shostak never scored on a tip-in, never even had the chance to do so. And she still has the school’s goal-scoring record.

Lynn’s brother John and her sister Sharman never saw her play at UMaine. Their recollections are from earlier or later years. John remembers how Lynn accepted everybody, and found a way to appreciate what they liked. Sharman still remembers dancing with Lynn in the living room.

“She had a wonderful spirit,” Sharman said. “She was delightful. She just loved stimulating fun.”

So I’m glad I heard these stories, about Lynn’s contagious smile and how people remember her so fondly 30 years after her death. Naturally, there are people like Lynn Shostak all around — sports pioneers, people with stories to tell about how things were so different before they turned into the only way a lot of us have known.

They’re great stories, full of real emotion and laughter and lessons. So go find someone you know who has those stories, and listen to them.

Before your ears go.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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