VERONA, NJ - Field hockey returned to Verona High School this fall after a 40-year hiatus. Clara Frizzi saw this as an opportunity to try something new. Though it was her senior year, she opted to stop playing soccer and serve as captain for the young JV field hockey team. Frizzi is the TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.
“Clara left a sport she played for years and really put forth 100 percent effort for us every day,” said head coach Kristen Cassano. “She played offense, but would help out on defense in the circle at times. She was a great captain and player the younger class men could look up to.”
Though field hockey was new, Frizzi was a soccer player for years and continues to play lacrosse and run winter track. Field hockey was a chance to try something different.
“When I heard field hockey was starting up, I was very interested. I’ve played sports my whole life, but this was so different and I would come into it in the same spot as everyone else,” Frizzi said “We’d all be new, so I figured it was a good time to try it.”
Competing at JV level, the team took some lumps as one would expect from a brand-new program, but they persevered.
“I think it was a good season. Our record wasn’t great, but the score never really reflected how we played. We really did come together,” she said. “This motley group of girls molded as team, and we did learn the sport and improve.”
Frizzi credits her coaches for being patient and really breaking down the game, and she credits her team for the support they showed each other throughout the season.
"We knew we weren’t going to come out on the field as all stars, and we knew that everyone wasn’t going to learn at the same speed,” Frizzi explained. “Not everyone can pick up a stick and know the game right away. Because we were all in the same boat, nobody was ever critical of anyone else. We supported each other.”
Even though they knew the season would be tough, Frizzi said the team still had to learn how to deal with the losses in a positive way.
“Our biggest challenge was taking the loss and rolling with it. It never feels great to lose and a lot of us had played other sports where we had more success,” Frizzi said. “So it was hard to lose and try to turn that into a positive -- to see what we did wrong and learn from it.”
Boasting a large roster, Frizzi has high hopes for the future of VHS field hockey.
“It’s only up from here. We’ve got a good base and good coaches who taught us well,” Frizzi added. “We had such great numbers and those girls will all come back with more experience, and they will really be able to help new players. I think the team will be in a really good spot next year."
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.