BY JUSTIN DWYER
Junior field hockey player Alyssa Fania never imagined herself playing the sport in college.
Now, she is a vital member of the team and the Annandale, N.J., native started playing field hockey because of a suggestion by her best friend. Fania said she loved playing basketball for her high school team at North Hunterdon but never saw herself playing field hockey for a team at the collegiate level.
“During freshman year in high school, I started and picked it up. I played on the freshman team and then sophomore year on was on varsity,” Fania said.
The junior has been selected twice to the second all-conference team and has played 37 matches as a starter. In her first year she registered five goals and three assists, and she finished with six goals and three assists in her sophomore year.
Fania decided to attend The University after researching the school online, and after visiting she fell in love. She decided to play field hockey in July before her first year and said the transition to the college game was not that difficult.
“We are more structured here and everybody is better. You are playing with the big dogs, and my high school team was not that good,” Fania said.
When not playing field hockey, Fania volunteers at numerous locations off campus and enjoys helping others. In high school, she volunteered as a coach at the Special Olympics and helped kids train in the various events. She is also the vice president of the Off Campus Advisory Board.
Fania declared biology as her major in her first year, but soon switched over to exercise science. She said the change in major was influenced by her uncle and because she wanted a career in sports fitness.
“My uncle is a personal trainer and I just love the way he explains things, and it’s just so interesting,”Fania said. “I love learning about the body because you use it every day in sports.”
While academics are still her main priority, Fania is a major contributor to the team that is currently 5-0 and off to its best start since 1998. The team has 12 juniors on the roster, and Fania said the leadership has fallen on her classmates since there are only two seniors.
“Now that we’re juniors and there’s 12 of us, we need to step up and be an example for the younger kids because there are so many of us. We all get along, which is a good thing, and we are all on the same page,” Fania said.
While Fania was not quick to brag about herself, the junior said her role on the team is connecting others and being the facilitator in the middle of the field.
“I have to connect the left and right side, the front and back and be there. I have Kat [Kathleen Keale], who’s also the back center, and we just have to get it up the field. Luckily I am there sometimes just to finish,” Fania said.
Although she sees herself as not much of a scorer, Fania has 38 career points, 10 of those from this season. She was recently named University of Scranton Athlete of the Week and scored a key penalty stroke with fewer than three minutes left in the team’s season-opener win against Muhlenberg College.
The team has 13 games remaining, including one against nationally-ranked Catholic University.
Fania and the rest of her teammates will take on Keystone College at 7 p.m. Thursday at home.
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