Senior Field Hockey Athletes Reflect On Making Program History

Senior midfielder Alyssa Markell dribbling the ball and looking to pass it upfield. This photo was taken during the playoff season; the girls varsity field hockey team made program history by taking their team all the way to the state quarterfinals in playoffs.” Photo courtesy of Caroline Jenn (Caroline Jenn)

Field hockey became an official sport in Loudoun County Public Schools during 2016, and within five years the varsity squad at LCHS made school history by taking their team all the way to the state quarterfinals during the playoff season. The seniors on varsity shared how this team has resonated with them during their high school years, and how the sport will benefit them for the rest of their lives.


“For me, being a player on the varsity team has meant a lot,” senior Alyssa Markell said. “It has given me a family, and provided me with an environment to grow my field hockey and leadership skills.”


The varsity squad was made up of almost entirely seniors this year with a total amount of eight athletes. According to senior Charlotte Penberthy, the group of girls were all very inviting, encouraging, and patient in supporting each of their team members, despite their skill level.


“Being on the team has been so much fun because it was so new to me, and I was used to sports that I have played all my life,” Penberthy said. “My teammates had to teach me all the rules of the game during my sophomore year, so having them be there to support me has been super great.”


The seniors specifically mentioned that early morning practices took a major chunk out of each athletes’ morning, which was difficult at first, but ended up being an exciting experience to look back on.


“One thing that really challenged me was having morning practices almost every single morning,” Markell said. “Our practices were always fun, and we played music, but getting up at six every morning was really hard sometimes.”


The seniors also stated how they would bond after practice hours with various team activities, which helped solidify athletes’ relationships with each other.


“My team was very supportive of each other, for example, we’d always have dinners every Sunday night,” Penberthy said. “We’d come together and have various meals, like Mexican, Greek, or pancakes, and it would be a great way to start the week and get ready for the games ahead of us.”


The seniors included how their main source of motivation rooted from the team itself, which helped drive the athletes throughout the season and playoffs. “Knowing my team’s potential to do well made me show up and work hard every practice,” Penberthy said.


“I would say my biggest motivation was honestly just staying consistent while we won,” Markell said. “And not letting my teammates down was always on my mind.”


Making it to the state quarterfinals in the VHSL field hockey playoffs was expressed as the team’s most valuable accomplishment, according to the senior athletes. The players indicated how this moment was a special moment specifically for the school itself.


“Going to the state quarterfinals felt really good, mainly because we worked toward it during our entire season,” Penberthy said. “It was something that no one else ever had achieved in the history of our school program, so it really felt like we were paving the way for the rest of the girls after us to follow in our footsteps.”


According to the athletes, Penberthy and Markell are planning on keeping the sport in their lives whether it is on an adult club team, or a college athletic scholarship. Penberthy stated that she plans on refereeing or coaching a team in college, and finding an opportunity to maintain field hockey in her daily life.


“I am committed to attend and play field hockey at Ohio Wesleyan University,” Markell said. “For the next four years, I will hopefully reach my ultimate goal of making the NCAA tournament every year.”


The girls indicated that the bonds and friendships are what will stick with them forever. “Field hockey is so important to me because it represents something in my life that was a challenge turned into success because I stopped playing soccer, and I wanted to find something else to keep me competitive,” Penberthy said. “So joining this team allowed me to meet new people I never would have met, and have such great experiences and memories that I wouldn’t have encountered if I never stepped out of my comfort zone.”