Christopher High School field hockey standout Katie Garrison is pictured signing a National Letter of Intent to attend and play for the University of New Hampshire. Contributed photo.

Christopher field hockey star Katie Garrison scored 32 goals to lead the Cougars in a 17-2-2 season this past fall. The Cougars finished in first place in the Blossom Valley Athletic League, Mt. Hamilton Division, with an 8-0-2 record, and advanced to the Central Coast Section playoffs.

Garrison’s offensive output ranked as the best in the state of California with a 1.882 goals per game percentage, and the Cougars’ senior has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of New Hampshire next year and continue her field hockey career.

Garrison continues a trend of Christopher student-athletes who have excelled for the school and moved on to play in college. The CHS program under Dani Hemeon Perez is strong, and Perez’s lineage dates back to her play for Gilroy coach Adam Gemar and Gemar’s establishment of field hockey all over the city and the area. 

The genesis of this “center of excellence” in the city of Gilroy, including the leadership of Gemar and his former player Perez, Gilroy ’11 and an All-American at Iowa and part of the USA Women’s National Development Team, will be covered in detail in a future article.

“I am very fortunate to have played for Coach Dani and been a part of the CHS Field Hockey program,” Garrison said. “During my freshman year, I was the youngest on the varsity team and was very new to the sport of field hockey. Under coach Dani’s mentorship, I was able to grow and evolve into a leader for my team and develop my skill set. 

“My coach really pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me, and for that I am thankful. I was able to unlock my full potential playing for Coach Dani while continuing to learn and elevate as not only a field hockey player, but as a person.”

Garrison’s accomplishments are among the headlines for a spectacular period of excellent and successful Christopher High School field hockey under Perez. Over the last four seasons, the Cougars are 68-13-4 with three league championships, the last two years in the BVAL Mount Hamilton Division, after previously competing in the Pacific Coast Athletic League, Gabilan Division. Christopher has also qualified for and advanced in the Central Coast Section playoffs to one final, one semifinal and two quarterfinals.

“Katie is a great field hockey player with really strong fundamentals,” Perez said. “She was a starting forward on our team all four years. As a forward, she does a great job leading for the ball and creating space in tight situations. She is also an incredible leader and was voted one of our team captains both her junior and senior seasons.”

In the 2022 season, Christopher had an 18-7 mark, 6-4 in league play and had a superb playoff run. The Cougars defeated Valley Christian 2-1, Hollister 5-1, Los Altos 1-0 in two overtimes and Los Gatos 1-0 to reach the final, where they were edged by Archbishop Mitty 1-0.

In the fall 2023 season, the Cougars fashioned an unbeaten league season, featuring a 0-0 tie and 1-0 win over rival Gilroy. The only defeats came to Mitty 1-0 in overtime early in the season, and to St. Francis 1-0 in the playoffs.

“My senior year was the best year with the program yet,” Garrison said. “My teammates were wonderful people that I was lucky to play with, and the team culture was excellent. I am incredibly grateful that my team trusted me to take on a leadership role these past two seasons; it was an honor leading such a special group of girls.”

Garrison, the latest in a long line of successful student-athletes at both Christopher and Gilroy, began initially as an endurance athlete in swimming and cross country and moved to field hockey relatively late. At the end of seventh grade, she tried a field hockey camp at Gemar’s Infinity Club and fell in love with the sport. 

Garrison is extremely well-rounded. She recently became a Campus Captain for the Hidden Opponent (, and also started a Morgan’s Message chapter ( at Christopher. Both are valuable resources for mental health. 

Garrison was named CHS field hockey MVP. She was also recognized as BVAL co-senior of the year with Gilroy’s Jade Moncada. Additionally, Garrison also received the “Character Counts” award for female fall athletes at CHS, and was named first team All-West by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. 

That team covered California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. Of the 16 players, only four were from California and Garrison was the only one outside of the San Diego area.

Now it is on to college. Garrison was very impressed with the UNH coaches and team members during the recruiting process and is looking forward to the next step in both her education and field hockey career.

“UNH was the best college choice I could have possibly made,” Garrison said. “From the start, Coaches Balducci, Danielson, and Hathaway made me feel incredibly valued as a player and a human being. They have a clear vision for their exceptional program, and were honest and transparent with me surrounding the goals and aspirations they have for their program in the years to come. Upon visiting campus and meeting the girls, I was even more impressed with the college and program. UNH’s field hockey program is strong and has shown that they can compete with other high-caliber programs, which is exciting.”

Garrison follows in the footsteps of fellow Cougars who advanced to play in college, including Julia Davis ’16 (Indiana U. of Pennsylvania), Jordan Anaya ’21 (UC Davis), Mia Katsuyoshi ’22 (Cal), Skyler Turiello ’22 (Maryville), and Cloey Turiello ’23 (Maryville). 

It all begins with the genesis of field hockey by Gemar and the continuing tradition he and Perez have built in the city of Gilroy.

“Dani and I are on the same page,” Gemar said. “It’s fun. Period. That’s our number one goal. We want to be competitive. We want to teach everyone what they need to know to play at the next level. And to do everything athletes do; not just sit on the sideline.”

Both Gilroy and Christopher have amazing team cultures, with cohesiveness and friendships that are mirrored on the field with superb, successful field hockey. Players at both schools reference their teamwork and friendship highly.

“Commitment is a huge part of our team culture at CHS, and I am so proud of how the girls have really bought into this,” Perez said. “A big reason is that we play a team game, where passing and playing with speed is always the emphasis. In order to play this style of hockey, we really emphasize perfecting the fundamentals. As a coach, I do my best to not only prepare the girls to continue playing at the next level (if that’s what they hope to do), but to also give them the skills to be successful in whatever career path they choose to take.”

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