Claire Lawhon Pearce (’05) was a member of the Wake Forest field hockey team from 2001-2004. In her four years playing for the Demon Deacons, she helped the team to three national championships (2002-2004), along with a run to the NCAA semifinals in her freshman season. Overall, Pearce appeared in 63 games and made 23 starts during her time at Wake Forest. She recorded five goals and five assists in her career. In 2002, Pearce scored her first two career goals in the team’s first round NCAA Tournament matchup against California. In her four years with the Deacs, the team achieved a 78-11 record.
Claire Lawhon Pearce
When did you graduate from Wake Forest?
What was your major and/or minor?
Health and Exercise Science
What does being a Demon Deacon mean to you?
Oh gosh, it means everything. Truly. You learn more about yourself as a person when you get the opportunity to represent an incredible institution as a student-athlete. I am who I am because of my field hockey family. They were the ones who held me accountable, called me out, praised me, and gave me the do-overs I needed in order to grow. Being a part of such a close-knit community like Wake is something special. There aren’t many of us alumni out there, so being able to say I’m a Demon Deacon is an honor and a privilege.
Why are you still involved in Wake Forest Athletics?
It’s kind of like a pay it forward type of deal. Wake Athletics gave me so many opportunities for growth that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The least I can do is continue to show support, whether it be monetary or something as simple as using the online game tracker to follow a baseball game.
Why do you feel it is important to give back to the University?
I want to give back as not only a thank you, but as a chance to show the young kids coming up that we have their backs and that we, as alumni, care about the future of this program and the Athletic Department as a whole. I know I always looked up to our alumni that came back to show their continued love and support for the current team, even if we didn’t play with them. That meant a lot and with every dollar that my husband and I give, I think about them and the examples they set. And it’s not always about the money. It’s about coming back for teammates Kelly Doton and Kelly Dostal’s Hall of Fame Weekend because they are my family.
What is your current occupation?
I am entering my thirteenth year as a full-time head field hockey coach and PE teacher for my high school, Trinity Valley School, in Fort Worth, Texas.
What is your favorite memory of your time at Wake Forest?
Winning the third consecutive national championship, as a senior, at home, on our beautiful, brand new turf. There is nothing sweeter than that final whistle blowing, the Deacon dog pile and hoisting up that golden trophy, waving the number three.
What makes you most proud of Wake Forest?
Being a part of a place that takes pride in shaping you to be the best human being you can be. I know that sounds cliché, but I honestly feel that I was surrounded by not only the best teammates, but by faculty and staff that truly relied on me to perform to certain expectations. And when I didn’t – because looking back, boy did that happen more than I would have liked it to – I was held accountable for my actions. I can’t thank them enough.
When you come back to Wake Forest, you always…
I always go and stand underneath Maria’s tree at the field hockey field and check in. We all miss her, but it’s nice to know that she’s hanging out and keeping an eye on things.
I was there when…
The men’s basketball team was ranked inside the top 15 in the country. Skip Prosser would always make a point to board the field hockey bus before we left for the NCAA tournament and let us know how proud he was of us. I’ll never forget those moments.
Who is your favorite coach at Wake Forest, current or past?
Jen Averill, hands down! Jen took a chance with this wild and crazy Texas kid. I owe her everything and am so grateful for her patience and guidance. She showed me the importance of family, and now with our first baby on the way in November, I hope I can raise this baby girl the way Jen helped raise me.
(Note: This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Gold Rush.)