Slippery Rock University’s women’s field hockey team has ten freshmen on the team this year. “All of them have a really important role on our current team,” SRU field hockey head coach Julie Swiney said. “We have a wide range of players. Some are ready to contribute right away. Some are here to develop into the program.”
Freshman forward Jessie Trube and freshman midfielder Lauren Marks have already contributed. Trube, who as a high school athlete earned all-state honors in track and who played ice hockey at East Grand Rapids in Grand Rapids, Mich., has three goals through four games this season. Of Trube, Swiney said,“I think a three-sport athlete is always going to do well in Division II because in our league athleticism is a key component to success that you can’t really coach.”
Trube was also a two-time all-state honoree in high school field hockey in Michigan. Marks, a midfielder and forward from Lehighton Area High School in Lehighton, Pa., lettered four times in high school field hockey and was named the 2016 Times News Field Hockey Player of the Year.
Coach Swiney remarked on how the first couple games give Trube and Marks confidence with scoring. “As we enter these tougher PSAC games that’ll be a real test for them,” Swiney said.
Trube and Marks played club field hockey along with most of the other freshmen. Many of the freshmen hail from areas outside of Western Pennsylvania. Only two of the freshmen come from schools part of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League– Alayna Wagner and Emily Polakovsky went to Penn Trafford High School in Irwin, Pa. Of Wagner and Polakovsky, Swiney said, “I think they’re good friends and good teammates. They haven’t had the opportunity to play together on the field a whole lot yet.”
SRU is left to recruit in areas east of State College in places where field hockey is more prominent such as eastern Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, New York, Maryland, and New Jersey.
Swiney did state that SRU’s physical therapy program gives the team an advantage in recruiting since not many schools with a field hockey program have very strong physical therapy programs. Three of the freshmen, Trube, Wagner, and freshman forward Diana Dombrowski, are exercise science majors which is a degree some SRU students go into prior to physical therapy school.
“I think Slippery Rock is just a great university within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference with a great academic reputation. That within itself is a recruitment tool,” Swiney said.
Swiney said The Rock’s field hockey program also has a tradition geared towards freshmen wherein there are four smaller families that take on every freshman every year to help them acclimate into college and give them support during the season. “Each of the freshmen is a part of one of those families now,” Swiney stated.
So far the freshmen’s success has been on display with the team’s three-win and one-loss record. After yesterday’s one-loss game to undefeated Washington and Jefferson, SRU will look to take on IUP on Wednesday, Sept. 19.