NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The West Essex field hockey team is among the most prominent programs in the state, and is always developing new star players. West Essex Athlete of the Week Julia Russo has taken her game to new heights in her junior season, both on and off the field.

With 14 goals in the first eight games, she is tied for the team lead in goals, while also tying for second on the team in assists. Russo also has tried to be a role model and leader for the underclassmen in her third season on varsity.

“As a junior, I definitely have stepped into more of a leadership role for the underclassmen,” Russo said. “It wasn't too long ago that I was in their shoes, so I’m always trying my best to make sure they’re comfortable and make sure they know that I’m there if they need anything. I certainly take everything I’ve learned so far and share it with them to help them grow and learn.”

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After a freshman year in which she showed her enormous potential, Russo emerged as a key member of the team during sophomore year, scoring 28 goals and 18 assists. Despite only playing field hockey since seventh grade, Russo’s work ethic has led her to develop into a star for the Knights.

“I’m always trying to improve by learning new things,” Russo said. “I'm always practicing, if not at school then with my club team or even just in my yard. Repetition plays a huge role in field hockey, so to improve on something I just practice it over and over again until it is comes easily."

Russo is ranked as one of the top Class of 2018 recruits in the country, and has played a huge role for West Essex this season.

“Julia has been a dynamic force on the attack, scoring incredible goals in big moments for us,” Knights coach Jill Cosse said.

Russo’s love for the game is obvious when watching her play, and is a major reason why she has become such a successful player for the Knights.

“I love the competitiveness and drive you need to have in order to succeed,” Russo said. “I love how in field hockey you can constantly grow and learn from the game, and there really are no limits to your capabilities.”

West Essex High School Athlete of the Week is brought to you by The Joint Chiropractic of West Caldwell, which encourages all athletes to use chiropractic adjustments in their training to prevent injuries and improve their performance. Click HERE to learn more.