Vol. LXIII, No. 31
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
ON THE RISE: Princeton University field hockey star Katie Reinprecht displays her dazzling stick skills in action last fall. Reinprecht, a rising sophomore who was named the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2008, recently made the U.S, national team. She is currently competing for the U.S. in the BDO Womens Junior World Cup in Boston.
It wasnt love at first sight for Katie Reinprecht when it came to the game of field hockey.
As a second grader in North Wales, Pa., Reinprecht joined a field hockey league and lasted just one season.
I didnt like it, said Reinprecht. We played on grass and the ball kept getting caught. Plus, I was a soccer player.
But with her mother coaching field hockey and her older sister, Sarah, emerging as a star, Reinprecht gave the game another try in fifth grade.
On her second go-around in field hockey, Reinprecht has enjoyed a whirlwind romance with the game.
Reinprecht stuck with things this time and emerged as one of the top players in the country at her age early on in her high school career at Mt. St. Josephs Academy.
The gifted midfielder rose up the ranks of the U.S. national program, playing for the U-16, U-19, and U-21 teams in rapid succession.
Joining the Princeton University field hockey team this past fall, Reinprecht made an immediate impact, earning Ivy League Player of the Year honors as the Tigers won their 13th league crown in the last 14 years.
Earlier this summer, the rising sophomore was named to the national team. This week, she is competing for the U.S. squad in the BDO Womens Junior World Cup in Boston.
Even Reinprecht is surprised by her meteoric rise up the U.S. ladder. I always feel like I am getting picked earlier than I should, said Reinprecht, reflecting on making the national team.
It was Reinprechts initial experience with the U.S. U-16 team that helped stoke her passion for the game.
That was an amazing experience, recalled Reinprecht. We got to go to Holland and I made a lot of friends. Field hockey was definitely on the radar for me. It was the first time that I was identified as one of the best players at my age level.
Playing for the U-21 team as a high school senior helped Reinprecht raise the level of her game.
We were playing against China and Argentina; that was hockey at a high level, said Reinprecht.
They are very fast; you cant hold the ball very long. You have to make quick decisions. Things are at a high tempo; it is really competitive.
Following her sister, Sarah, to Princeton, Reinprecht relished the competitive feeling around the Tiger program.
It was a lot more professional than high school, said Reinprecht. Everything you do is very serious. I like that atmosphere; everyone gives their all in every practice.
Getting advice from older sister Sarah, a four-time All-Ivy player and mainstay of the teams Class of 2009, helped Reinprechts adjustment to college.
The senior class made the transition easier; they never held back on things, said Reinprecht. Sarah was telling me you better get working. I was always fit but this was a different level of fitness.
Still, it took a little while for Reinprecht to gain a comfort level with the Tigers.
It took me a few games to be comfortable with the team, said Reinprecht. I quickly realized that I had to be an impact player.
The skilled Reinprecht made quite an impact last fall for the Tigers, leading the team with 15 goals, 13 assists, and 43 points as the Tigers went 17-3 and ended the season as the fifth-ranked team in the country after an overtime loss to Syracuse in the NCAA quarterfinals.
The other Ivy coaches recognized Reinprechts brilliant debut by voting her as the leagues top player.
I was completely surprised to be the Ivy League Player of the Year, said Reinprecht. There are so many good players in the league that I look up to. I was definitely not expecting it.
The Tigers proved they have enough good players to hang with anyone in their heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Syracuse in the NCAA quarters.
That was a rough game, said Reinprecht. We proved that we could play with the big dogs; they had been ranked No. 1 for awhile last season. Although we lost to them, we stuck with them the whole way through. It gave us motivation as we made our transition into the spring. Last years seniors are telling us that we can make the final four.
This week, Reinprecht is motivated to help the U.S. go deep in the Junior World Cup. On Monday, Reinprecht and the U.S. got off to a good start with a 3-1 win over Belarus.
Some of the other girls have told me what a great experience it is, added Reinprecht of the tournament which will include 16 countries and take place on fields at Harvard and Boston College. It is a really high level of hockey.
With her talented younger sister, Julia, also playing in the Junior World Cup and joining the Princeton squad this fall, Reinprecht is looking to provide a higher level of leadership as a sophomore.
Last years juniors have never had to lead; the seniors had to lead earlier in their careers, said Reinprecht.
Everyone has a responsibility to step up, even the incoming freshmen. I am trying to help them with the transition but also putting pressure on them. I went for a 6-mile run with Julia. She didnt want to do it but I told her it would help. I know how good a player she can be; she cant hold back.
And Reinprecht hasnt held back once she fell in love with field hockey.
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