VIRGINIA BEACH -- Christina Restivo definitely has national championship experience in field hockey.
As a student-athlete at the University of Maryland, she helped guide the Terrapins to the NCAA Division I title in 2005 and 2006. Later, as an assistant coach at Wake Forest University, she helped lead the Demon Deacons to semifinals in 2007, to the title game in 2008 and to the quarterfinals in 2009.
Now, as the new head field hockey at Virginia Wesleyan College, she wants the Marlins to experience it again at the Division III level. VWC advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2003 and 2004.
"My vision for this program is to first and foremost, mature student athletes, to provide them the tools to succeed on and off the field. " said Restivo, whose hiring was announced Tuesday by VWC Athletic Director Joanne Renn. "On the field, I would like to get back to the NCAA tournament with a goal of competing in every game all the way to the championship. In order for that goal to happen, we as a program will first start in educating our student athletes about the game, providing fundamental skills to allow our student athletes to excel, and lastly, challenge them every day so that they are prepared."
Restivo comes to the Virginia Beach campus after a six-year stay at Wake Forest, where she not only coached field hockey, but also received her Master's in Arts and Liberal Studies in 2011. Earlier, she received her bachelor's degree in Public and Community Health in 2007 from the University of Maryland. At Maryland, she was a standout goalkeeper for the 2005 and 2006 national championship teams and a specialist in penalty strokes.
"This search was extremely competitive and we had outstanding candidates from experienced and varied backgrounds from which to choose," said Renn. "We are confident that we found an engaged, well-connected and well-prepared leader, coach and colleague in Christina Restivo."
Part of Restivo's success through the years has been grasping the fundamentals of field hockey, and that's exactly where she intends to begin with the Marlins. She believes fundamental skills separate good teams from great teams and that competing with the best teams becomes easier with a team of athletes comprised of solid basic skills.
"Our first order of business is to get back to the basics and fundamentals of our sport," said Restivo. "Secondly, with a good work ethic and sound understanding of the game, Virginia Wesleyan will be back on the road to success. Our third mission will be to bring in recruits that share our philosophy and belief in our program to take it to the next level."
Virginia Wesleyan has enjoyed its share of highlights in recent years, but has not posted a winning season since 2006. Instead of being a negative point in thinking about pursuing the coaching position at VWC, Restivo overlooked it for the bigger picture.
"This position has many attractions," said Restivo. "First, Virginia Wesleyan is located in the hot bed of the field hockey world. It will allow us to recruit in our back yard. It also puts us in a great location to recruit from east coast high schools, such as power house states, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. Secondly, Virginia Wesleyan's athletic department is very well supported throughout the College, from President Greer (Billy), down. There is a great sense of community when I visited campus and it seems that that is part of their winning tradition, from academics to the playing field. Lastly, Virginia Wesleyan may be a small liberal arts college, however, it has enormous character and integrity."
A native of Parkton, Maryland, Restivo was an all-state, all-county and Baltimore Sun Metro Player of the Year after guiding Hereford High School to the state championship in 2001. Hereford also won the state title in 1998 with Restivo as the goalie.
After Hereford, she enrolled at the University of Maryland to study and to play field hockey. She was redshirted in the sport in 2002, and played in 11 games in 2003. By the end of her career, Restivo competed in 39 games, started in 24 and allowed only 28 goals. She compiled a career goals against average of 1.23 and a saves percentage of .650.
Her first intercollegiate victory was recorded in 2003 against No. 7 Old Dominion University. She posted a career-high four shutouts in 2004 and a career-best 1.27 GAA in 2005, that latter helping UM rank No. 2 nationally in defense. As a senior in 2006 her penalty stroke skills helped UM advance to the NCAA title game as she stopped two penalty strokes against the University of Connecticut. She earned a place on the All-NCAA Tournament team.
Her coaching career began shortly thereafter at Wake Forest, where she helped with everything from recruiting, to maintaining budget, to game analysis .
Now, her career story begins a new chapter, as a head coach in charge of her own program.
"I'm really excited for this opportunity to work at Virginia Wesleyan," said Restivo. "It is a great institution, academically and athletically. I am now proud to be a part of it."