Deenas enjoy one-game rivalry
It has not been unusual for Columbus Academy girls lacrosse player Courtney Deena to hear an opposing coach shout things like "shut her down" the last few years, although those phrases usually were said in vain.
With 198 career goals entering the postseason, she's used to the attention.
It sounded differently to Deena, though, on May 9 at Pickerington High School North.
The words that night came from her father, Norm Deena, who is in his second season as North's coach but was going against his daughter for the first time.
"He was saying, 'Get her on the roll,' and I thought, 'Wait, he's teaching them how to stop my move,'" Courtney said of when she'd approach North's crease with the ball.
It proved to be a memorable night for Courtney, as the senior midfielder celebrated her final regular-season game with seven goals and one assist and led her team past her father's 18-13.
Academy improved to 15-1, while North rebounded to beat Pickerington Central 18-9 in its regular-season finale May 10 to improve to 9-5-1.
Even though the Academy defeat marked the fourth loss in six games for Norm's team, he left feeling encouraged about the Panthers' performance against one of the area's best teams and one of its top players.
Courtney has a team-leading 51 goals for the ninth-ranked team in the laxpower.com state rankings.
When Norm was told his daughter had scored seven goals, he shook his head and smiled.
"That's not bad," he said. "Coaching against her is like going against another player even though she's my daughter. As a coach, you've got to defend her. You have to push her wide. As a parent, she's doing the things we've worked on."
The Deenas might not have been in position to go against one another if not for the father taking his daughter's advice a few years ago.
Norm, who originally is from Hempstead, N.Y., began playing lacrosse at age 9 before moving to Ohio in 1989.
"After we came out here I was an assistant at Ohio State, and then life and family came along," said Norm, who coached the Watterson boys team for three seasons before taking over North's girls program. "(Courtney) actually convinced me to coach again."
"I was telling (Academy) coach (Anne) Horton that now that he's coaching there, you have to have us play against my dad," Courtney said.
Enjoying the one-game rivalry between father and daughter from the sidelines was Fredericka Deena, Norm's wife of 27 years and Courtney's mother.
Fredericka, who for many years held the 200 meters state record in West Virginia when her maiden name was Wallace, was asked before the game how she would root for both her husband and her daughter.
"There's no room for him tonight," she said with a smile.
North scored the game's first two goals and was tied with Academy at 4 with 13 minutes, 14 seconds left in the first half before a goal by Courtney gave her team a 5-4 lead.
North never led again despite the performances of senior attacker Abbey Paulus (5 goals) and junior attacker Caroline Giardina (3 goals, 3 assists).
The Deenas are longtime Pickerington residents and Courtney's older brother, Antonio, is a 2005 North graduate who played for the boys soccer program.
Courtney helped the Academy field hockey team win its ninth state title last November and signed a letter of intent in February to play field hockey for the University of Maryland.
Feb. 19 was deemed "Courtney Deena Day" in Pickerington by mayor's proclamation, according to the Deenas.
The day after the Vikings beat the Panthers, while her father's team was trying to win the OCC-Central Division championship, Courtney traveled to Chicago for the U.S. field hockey Olympic trials.
She took the trip knowing she had secured bragging rights within the family.
On the day of the Academy-North game, Courtney received a text from her father that read "Panthers ready to eat some Vikings."
According to Fredericka, Courtney looked for "hours and hours" before the game for a scouting report on Academy that her father had put together.
Norm, however, had kept it safely hidden inside his car.
"She was telling me, 'I can't wait to beat him,' " Fredericka said. "I could see his jaws getting clenched a little. The trash talking was getting pretty hearty. But it's a testament. How nervous must she be to play against her dad? It was cool to watch. That's the way it should be."
"It's all been in good fun," Norm said. "It's not like whoever loses gets to wash the dishes. She'll have bragging rights for a few years, but it's a friendly rivalry."