With wide eyes glued to the television screen I watched the US Women’s Soccer team battle a grueling match against China for the 1999 World Cup title. After 120 minutes of scoreless entertainment, the fate of each team came down to the nerve-wracking decider of penalty shootouts. My little 8-year-old heart was overflowing with admiration and pride as I watched each player step up to the line for their moment of glory. With a tied score of 4-4 and an unbelievable save by the U.S. goalie, Brianna Scurry, America had one more shot to take home the victory. In composed form Brandi Chastain struck the ball just outside of the goalies reach and into the back of the net. The stadium erupted, as did the thousands of homes that were tuned into the game. I will never forget the moment I turned to my dad and in very sincere words he said, “One day, Stefanie. One day.”
I joined with the million other little girls who had their rooms decked out with Mia Hamm posters and dreams of being on the National team, but once much of the hype died down, my passion still burned. Filling the stereotypical tomboy mold complete with a bowl cut and worn hand-me-downs from my brother, sports became just as essential as breathing in my life. My dedicated parents and I juggled the various engagements of basketball and soccer for a couple years and in sixth grade my gym teacher introduced me to the sport of field hockey. She saw much potential during this two-week section of P.E. class and extended and invitation to try out for the team. I excitedly accepted the opportunity because it meant more sports in my life, but retired a week later once I learned that the uniforms included a skirt! Fortunately, my formative years in middle school consisted of longer hair and shopping in the girls section by 7th grade so I was finally able to give field hockey a solid chance. As I excelled in the sport my dream took a slight shift from soccer, but had the same hopes of playing for the red, white and blue. After countless hours spent at practices, games, tournaments, and traveling I was blessed with a field hockey scholarship to Duke University. My collegiate performance and development earned me a spot on the National Field Hockey Team where I am currently living my dream. We train at a beautiful new complex called Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, PA.