Senior Field Hockey Player Inspired by Teammates

Shawn Wolfe, Reporter

As collegiate competition relents during COVID-19, senior field hockey player Jenna Whitman is cherishing her remaining time on the hockey team.

Whitman,  a fourth-year central defensive midfielder, said she’s trying to adapt to the craziness that is the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said she discovered her love for the sport at a young age.

“I have been playing sports since I was little. When I got to middle school, I wanted to try something new, so I tried out for the field hockey team, and I fell in love with the sport,” she said.

The team’s season has been postponed, but that has not stopped Whitman and her teammates from honing their skills during practices.

“Practice is definitely a lot different than it used to be,” said Whitman. “We can no longer practice in big groups or do anything contact. Therefore, we do a lot more fitness and skill-related drills. This is making us a stronger and a more skilled team, but we definitely miss the competitive push of practice and being able to be all together.”

The team practices and lifts three nights a week, and players hope there will be an opportunity for them to show off their skills in the spring.

Still, Whitman is preparing herself for the reality: no games may be played at all.

“I was looking forward to my senior year on the field as a leader. I was also looking forward to senior night and being recognized alongside my senior teammates for all the hard work we have put in for our four years playing together. It was a hard realization knowing we will not play our senior season like we have waited for four years, but I am grateful that I can still get out on the field with my teammates,” she said.

Whitman said hockey means more that competition or a means to stay in shape.

“We are not just a team but a family. Everyone has each other’s back on and off the field. I have gained 20 sisters through Misericordia field hockey.”

She added that he teammates inspire here.

“Sometimes it is hard to motivate yourself for practice with no games to play right now, but having a team who pushes you and is there to support you is helpful,” Whitman said.

She said some of her core values come from her experience.

“I learned that the harder you work and the more effort you put into something, you will receive great things in return. I also learned the importance of time management and being able to balance athletics and academics,” she said.

Whitman knows the rewards of that hard work, as she was named MAC Freedom Conference Rookie of the Year her freshman year.

She is still grateful for the opportunities, whether or not there is a season.

“I have the opportunity to practice with my team and get to still play the sport I love while also having time to focus on school, which I am very grateful for,” Whitman said.

The pandemic has impacted many areas of her life, she said, including academics.

“I’m an occupational therapy major, so it is a lot harder with the content online, and our fieldwork is all through virtual learning and telehealth, which has made it more difficult to interact with clients and learn interactively,” she said.

But Whitman is confident nothing will interfere with her future.

“The occupational therapy program is a five year program here at Misericordia, so I will hopefully be doing in person level two fieldwork in Florida and then graduate in the spring with my Master’s,” Whitman said.