HARWICH ─ Field hockey has been a lifelong passion for Monomoy senior Marina Small, who proved a formidable player for the Sharks during her tenure at the high school. Now, after formally signing her letter of intent, Small is taking her talents to Westfield State, where she's looking forward to joining the Owls in some fierce competition.
Small first picked up a hockey stick when she was in kindergarten, appreciating the fast pace of the sport, which soon became a passion. Small honed her skills through former Monomoy head coach Cheryl Poore's Cape Cod Reach Field Hockey Camp, as well as through the New England Strikers program in North Easton.
“Marina is an intense and talented competitor,” said Poore. “I believe she has only scratched the surface of her considerable talent. Her speed and energy alone will give her a competitive advantage.”
This season the Owls played to an 11-5 regular season record, which earned them a playoff berth in the Little East Conference. The Div. 3 team was upset in tournament play, but six players, including fellow Cape Codder Rachel Bunce of Dennis, earned All-Conference honors.
Monomoy guidance counselor Jonathan Bennett said that the competitive nature of Westfield's Field Hockey program, as well as the school's strong academics, was what initially attracted Small to the school.
“Westfield had every single thing she was looking for in a school: the size, the academic programs, the familiarity with the coach. It checked off every box,” Bennett said. “For Marina we had zeroed in on that school for a long time, hoping that field hockey would come to fruition, and it did.”
What sealed the deal, Bennett said, was a promising visit this fall.
“She had a really great trip up there, which I think was the deciding factor for both the coach, when she had a chance to meet Marina, and Marina when she had a chance to meet the team,” Bennett said, adding that Small was thrilled to meet several other players from the Cape.
When the official letter arrived, the excitement in the Small household was palpable.
“I was very excited for her and for her accomplishments,” said Small's father, Jonathan. “I'm excited to see Marina excel, and how she excels in the sport.”
Mom Karen echoed the elation.
“It was a perfect fit for her,” she said.
This season saw Small join her Monomoy teammates in playing to an 11-5-2 record that included post-season play. Throughout the season, just as in previous years, Small was an integral part of the varsity squad, and was a formidable player in victories against Barnstable, Nantucket, Sandwich, Notre Dame Hingham, and Duxbury in a pre-season scrimmage.
“I think it was the intensity and the constant moving, and how much you have to work with your teammates,” Small said of what initially drew her to field hockey. “I love the sport and I want to continue after high school.”
“She has an all-too-rare learner's heart that will enable her to refine and expand her skills for collegiate play,” said Poore. “I expect to be hearing very good news about her future field hockey successes. Both she and Hannah Potter have D1 level talent but they both seemed more comfortable that the schools they have chosen will give them the opportunity to have a collegiate experience in more than field hockey.”
Indeed, Small is looking to major in criminal justice at Westfield en route to a career in crime scene investigation. Her determination both on and off the field will serve her well, according to Bennett.
“She's very hard working,” said Bennett. “She's gone through ups and downs academically like a lot of kids will do in high school, but despite any barriers she's had to overcome, she's done that and has come out with a very strong GPA.”
Bennett is looking forward to Small's success beyond the halls, and the turf, of Monomoy.
“I'm so proud of Marina. I've worked with these ladies (Marina and Hannah Potter) for four years and watched them develop not just as amazing athletes, but also as amazing young women,” he said. “They're going to be great at field hockey in college no doubt, but the schools that have the two kids going are so fortunate. They're cream of the crop kids. It makes our job so much easier to work with students like Marina. She's worked her tail off to be where she is today.”
Small, meanwhile, is concentrating on wrapping up her senior year as a Shark before setting sights toward Westfield and a continued field hockey adventure.
“I can't wait,” said Small.