YORK, PA - The York College field hockey team has a different look on their faces this year. The Spartans feel that this could be their year, due to talented players and hope that the talent can come together to win games.
Senior captain Veronica Eltz (Hanover, Pa./Delone Catholic) explained that the squad is full of talent and “if we put the talent together and work as a team, then we should be a great team this year.”
But one thing that is different this year is the return of junior forward, Heather Re (Hackettstown, N.J./ Hackettstown), who started in 16 of 20 games in her sophomore campaign in 2007.
Entering the 2008 season, Re arrived at preseason camp excited for what promised to be a quality season. After appearing in those 16 games, Re had plenty of collegiate experience under her belt to match her tremendous talent. Her excitement quickly turned to tears however, as Re tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her right knee
“It was the last day of pre-season and during a drill my knee buckled and I immediately hit the ground,” Re recalled. “When the trainers told me that it could be my ACL I immediately said ‘No, it can’t be!’ I’m very competitive and I knew that I would not be able to play and there goes my season, not even [able to play] one game.”
Re’s injury was felt throughout the squad. Not only did the Green and White lose a talented forward for an entire year, but also the reality that individual seasons can be over in a split second shook a number of Spartans.
Senior captain Megan Spangler (Myerstown, Pa./Eastern Lebanon County) said that it was “devastating to see a teammate and friend go down like that, it was so sad. It truly showed us all that an injury like that can end your season and possibly your career. It was horrible seeing such a talented player practice so hard just to lose it all in a second.”
Following the injury, Re faced surgery and months of rehabilitation. A daunting task for sure, but one she met with a determination to rejoin the Spartans in 2009.
“Rehab was not fun, not fun at all,” Re explained, “the process was so long, I had rehab up to 5 days a week for 2-3 hours at a time. On top of rehab I had to fit doctor appointments in on a monthly basis.”
Re’s determination, stemming from not only a love for the game but also her teammates, forced her to work hard throughout the grueling rehab process. With only eleven months from the day of the surgery until preseason to prepare, Re worked to make sure she would be ready to play the first day of practice. That hard work however proved to be too much strain on the weakened leg as she acquired another set back during the summer, developing stress fractures which left her unable to run.
“That was tough, to be so close to being back to where I was before my injury and then inquiring another set back was tough for me,” Re said with emotion.” I knew that even if I was to lift and run, my leg would still be weak. It was devastating to know that I was going to be out of shape.”
Upon arriving to campus this year, Re was filled with mixed emotions. The setbacks over the previous year drained the Spartan yet she was spurred on following a meeting with head coach Jamie Swartz.
“Coach and I met before preseason, we talked about what I was going through. Even after hearing about the stress fractures she still wanted me on the team, and wanted me to play my senior year out. It was comforting that she still wanted me to play, but it was also sad knowing that I wouldn’t get as much playing time as if my injury never occurred.”
Deciding to come back, Re was ecstatic to simply be on the field once more. To run around, participate in drills, and just get back to playing her favorite game, field hockey.
“It feels absolutely wonderful,” Re said with a big smile when asked how it feels being back on the field. “I may not get a lot of playing time, but I know that, that day last year could have been my last time playing [field hockey] and I didn’t want my career to end like that.”
With Re’s return to playing, her teammates know how much it means not only to her individually but the team as a whole
“It is great to see her out there again, she is really competitive and works extremely hard in practice,” Eltz said. “Even being injured she is still running faster than some of the girls. It is scary to see where she might have been if this wouldn’t have happened. I am happy to see her finish out her career strong.”
Spangler added that Re’s enthusiasm on and off the field is uplifting and motivational to her teammates.
Re has high hopes for the Spartans this year and stated that she would like to end her career with a Capital Athletic Conference championship appearance, something that has been on her mind since she stepped onto York’s field her freshmen year.
“I think we can do it this year. We are all working really hard with the same goal in mind: win conference games and make an appearance in the CAC championship if not win.”
On Thursday, September 17, Re scored her first goal of the season against non-conference opponent Juniata in the 63rd minute of play.
“It feels great to get that first goal under my belt. This will hopefully give me confidence in games to come.”
Beginning the season, the Spartans are 2-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Re has appeared in four games this year, including the Green and White’s season-opener against Alvernia. Next up for Re and the Spartans is a trip to non-conference foe Goucher on Tuesday, September 22, for a 7:00 pm tilt.
Feature written by York College Sports Information Student-Intern Zach Clabaugh
Photos courtesy of Zach Clabaugh and Steve Doemland (www.stevedoemland.com)