Sprinting across the field at high speed, stick gripped firmly in her hand and eyes centered on the ball ahead, Sarah Schloss is exactly where she wants to be – playing field hockey.
Active in sports since childhood, Schloss has grown into a formidable athlete and leader and was recently named State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Field Hockey Player of the Week in recognition of her talent and drive.
Upon stumbling across her achievement on the team’s website, Schloss said she was filled with unexpected excitement and was amazed that out of all the other teams and players, she was the one chosen.
Growing up in a family of athletes, Schloss was raised to be competitive and play to her potential. Her family’s support and motivation throughout the years has driven Schloss to play every game to the fullest and to make her family proud.
Her coaches have also pushed her toward success and Schloss said that even the bad ones have “taught me little lessons that I keep with me and use either as fuel or guidance.”
A huge part of her success has been Head Coach Shanna Vitale, who joined the Lady Hawks in 2009. Schloss said the addition of Vitale created a “new atmosphere, a new team and a new outlook,” with Vitale teaching her to “turn it on,” pushing her to go harder even when she thought she couldn’t. She believes her recent success can be attributed to the constant challenges she was set against under Vitale. Schloss’ teammates are an integral part of her experience as well, she said.
“Their excitement, determination, spunk, heart … is what keeps me going,” Schloss said. “If I didn’t have such a great relationship with everyone I would have never made it this far.”
Schloss said her team’s successful performances against tough competition have led to notoriety within and outside their conference. She also said that even with success, there are always going to be rough spots because of the mixture of teammates from different field hockey backgrounds, but that it’s not impossible to transcend.
“You’re taking 20 or so girls from all different areas with all different styles of play and asking them to play together, it takes some time for everyone to adjust,” Schloss said. “If you form friendships rather than viewing them as only teammates, this makes the transition much quicker as well as getting through tough times easier.”
Becoming one of the team’s captains was no easy venture, but Schloss said she was prepared.
“My co-captain and I came into this season with the mindset of leading by example. If we play tough, the team will play tough; if we give everything we have, the team will also give everything they have.”
Knowing what her teammates were capable of allowed her to push them accordingly. Schloss firmly supports for hustling, something she said she has learned that everyone should be able to do.
“Being out-hustled is the worst way to lose. You’ve got to want to be there, you have to be hungry and move towards the ball, otherwise your opponents will,” Schloss said.
Schloss is passionate about field hockey, and said that many spectators do not understand the game due to perceived overuse of whistles and confusing rules.
“If you can get past that and really look at the dynamics of the game, it’s amazing,” she said.
She also said that the danger of play is another fascinating part, because of the sheer exhaustion and constant threat of being hit by another player’s stick or the “rock hard” field hockey ball. Schloss said that field hockey requires a lot of mental toughness because of mistakes such as interceptions.
“Once you realize that and accept the fact [that] you’re going to mess up, the better off you’ll be. It’s hard, sometimes, to let the mistakes you’ve just made roll off your back, but in order to keep yourself in the game it’s a necessity.”
Wishing to give future captains and players advice she never had starting out, Schloss said even though demanding the best from your players isn’t going to make you popular, in the end you will be thanked for being tough. She also said that listening to underclassmen is integral, because many times they do have good ideas. Schloss also stressed the building of a stronger relationship between players.
“A strong bond goes a long way… the closer your team is the easier it is for you to rise above and get through tough games, practices and really anything that is thrown your way,” she said.