During her grade school years, Sydney Watts’ favorite recreational activity was riding horses.
But things changed for Watts when she entered the John Witherspoon Middle School in the fall of 2006.
“I started playing field hockey in the 6th grade, playing at JW,” said Watts. “Then in December of 6th grade, I started playing with Champions Edge at Princeton. They had Sunday practices and I really got into it.”
That extra work paid dividends as Watts developed into a skilled, versatile player for Princeton High. With Watts playing at both defense and in the midfield over her career and serving as a team captain, the Little Tigers emerged as one of the top teams in the area.
This week, Watts is taking her skills to the next level as she starts her career with the Amherst College field hockey team.
For Watts, playing for the IMPACT club team in northern Jersey during high school helped put her on the radar for college programs.
“The club experience brought it up; I was not considering it until high school and then I realized it might be an option,” said Watts, reflecting on her college search.
“We would go to showcases and the coaches were there. I got to know the older girls and they had been through the process so that helped.”
After initially looking at D-I programs, Watts changed her focus to D-III schools.
“I was looking at the Ivy League schools,” said Watts. “Princeton has a great field hockey program and my dad went to Brown. By my sophomore year, I had narrowed it to the D-III. I felt the academics and athletics were the best fit. I really liked the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) schools.”
In the end, Watts’ choice came down to a pair of NESCAC schools, Tufts and Amherst.
“I was pretty intent on going to Tufts; I liked the size and the opportunities with engineering there,” said Watts.
“I visited Amherst and the athletes seemed to have a more important role there.”
Since the end of the PHS season, Watts has been working hard to get ready for college athletics.
“I played club until the end of senior year,” said Watts. “There was a summer league at Princeton Day School on Wednesday nights and I played in that. I have also been doing the Amherst workout packet. We lift weights three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, we do stick training. The coach wants us to play as much field hockey as possible; she feels that experience from the game is the best training.”
Prior to starting the Amherst preseason, Watts got in some extra training with her future teammates as the squad spent a weekend in the 4Goals college program.
“We were at Harvard; it was full intensity with game situations,” said Watts.
“We played a 7-on-7 tournament and an 11-on-11 tournament. It was awesome. Our whole team was there. All the starters came back and all seven freshmen were there. We got to see how we fit in. Everyone got to play. We actually played really well with each other; we went undefeated in the 7-on-7 tournament.”
As Watts looks ahead to her freshman campaign, she is confident she will fit in, no matter what role she assumes for the Lord Jeffs, who begin regular season play by hosting Middlebury on September 7.
“I was talking to the other girls and they asked me what position I play,” said Watts.
“I played center mid and sweeper in high school. I told them I would play anywhere they need me. I just really want to make an impact on the team, even if it is cheering on the