Suffolk girls travel west to take part in national field hockey event

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 27, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Last November, Katelyn Smither took a trip west for Thanksgiving – as far west as she could go without leaving the country. She took part in the National Field Hockey (NFH) festival, one of the premier field hockey events on the globe, in Palm Springs, Calif.

&uot;The people that I played against played at a really high level,&uot; said Smither, now a junior Lady Cavalier. &uot;I got a lot of good exposure to the coaches there, and I said a low of different styles of play.&uot;


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Before heading to the Golden State, Smither had already carved out one of the deepest niches in Southeastern District field hockey history. She’d led the Eastern Region with 24 goals and passed for 17 assists, and helped her team to a third consecutive district title.

But this year, the youngster did a bit better. She again led the region with 26 goals and had 19 assists. The Lakeland ladies repeated their district title feat. Smither was named the top player in both the district and the region, and made the All-State team. The Norfolk Sports Club awarded her the 2003 Outstanding Metro Field Hockey player, making her the first non-Beach District victor since the award was first given in 1976.

If Smither improves any more, she might be deemed too good. It’s a chance she’s more than willing to take. On Tuesday, she started her trek back to the old west for another season of NFH shooting and scoring. This time, teammates Nicole Debien, Alice Carnegie, Jennifer Brinkley, Stephanie Owen, Kelsey Cutchins, Lindsay Kelly and Nicole Klee, and coach Tara Worley were also ready to show the Lakeland spirit to the rest of the country, and Nansemond River’s Ashley Aston is on her way as well. The girls will play on four separate teams, and Worley will be coaching Owen, Klee and Aston on the Norfolk Fury Silver team.

&uot;I wanted to get a feel for what it takes to coach there,&uot; said Worley, who hopes to take a team full of Lady Suffolkians to the event next year. &uot;This is a good chance for them to get some exposure to colleges.&uot;

That’s Brinkley’s top priority. &uot;I hope I can get coaches to look at me,&uot; said the senior, who along with Carnegie, Debien and Robyn Mazzone finished her high school field hockey career last season. She hopes to attend James Madison University or the University of Virginia.

&uot;It’s beneficial that coaches get to see me early, so they’ll look out for me in the future,&uot; said Aston, a sophomore and All-District selection. &uot;I don’t think it will be bad to play with the Lakeland players, because I played with them at camps in Pennsylvania.&uot;