Seniors near playing-career finale at home for Rutgers
The good news for the Rutgers field hockey program is that it is only losing two players at the end of this season.
The bad news is that those two players are two-time captains Sophie Wright and Jenn Staab, who play an integral part in the Scarlet Knights’ day-to-day operations.
This Sunday, Wright and Staab will be honored on Senior Day.
Wright and Staab arrived at Rutgers in 2011 as the only two players in the recruiting class. They were the first two players recruited by then-assistant and now head coach Meredith Long.
“We’ve really grown together here,” Long said. “They were with me from the beginning, and I think that we’ve really seen the program transition and the culture transition in a positive direction.”
Despite the polar opposite backgrounds, with Wright hailing from the United Kingdom and Staab growing up right here in New Jersey, the two have become practically inseparable during their time at Rutgers.
“Since freshman year, we have been best friends,” Wright said. “Being captains in our junior year as well has helped to develop our bond even more. We are a pretty tight, strong unit.”
Staab reflected on the time the two have spent to grow closer together as teammates and friends.
“We’ve been through everything together,” Staab said. “I’m glad we have been here through the changes that helped this program move forward.”
This season marks the second year in a row that they’ve been elected co-captains by their teammates. Despite being juniors, Staab said her experience as a leader last year allowed her to grow and lead the team deeper into this year.
Long feels it has showed for both of them this season and thinks their connection with the players and coaches is crucial.
“They have a lot of responsibility, and they take it really seriously,” Long said. “I go to them a lot to get a feel for what’s happening on the team, and how the team is feeling physically and mentally. [Wright and Staab] are really in tune with the team and the coaching staff. It’s important we work well and efficiently together.”
When the season ends, for the first time in a long time, Wright and Staab won’t have to wake up the next day for practice to compete at a competitive level, something Wright describes as bittersweet.
But she isn’t done with field hockey just yet.
Wright will be playing in Australia with her best friend at a club team for the season. In fact, that club team is teammate Shevaun Hayes’ old club.
Staab said she will have “mixed emotions” and that it will feel good to be well rested.
Staab doesn’t believe that she will end up playing after college other than in a few tournaments here and there. She jokingly said she may have to join coach Long’s competitive team.
Whether that joke one day actually comes to fruition, Wright and Staab have made lasting contributions that their coach will always remember.
“They embody the personality, the character traits that we want in our players, and the Rutgers field hockey team,” Long said. “They are a shining example of that. I’m really proud of the legacy both of them will leave.”
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