Editor's Note: This article was originally published in Yorktown News on July 25.
SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – The gold standard when it comes to athletes from Northern Westchester is 1997 Peekskill graduate and current Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand.
Brand played 17 years in the National Basketball Association, which included being taken as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft by the Chicago Bulls in 1999, earning co-Rookie of the Year honors and being named an All-Star twice.
Unfortunately for 2012 Lakeland graduate Emma Bozek, there is no national field hockey association to play in, but if there was, she would be a good bet to be the field hockey version of Brand.
At Lakeland, Bozek was one of the most decorated multi-sport stars in Section 1 history. She won three state titles, was named National Player of the Year and earned All-American honors twice in field hockey, while in lacrosse was named All-American, garnered three sectional titles and made it to the state finals once.
She then played on four Final Four field hockey teams at the University of North Carolina, was the leading scorer on two of them, and was also named All-American.
Bozek played field hockey as well for a period of time in Australia.
“I went to Australia for a couple of reasons,” Bozek said. “First and foremost, I wasn’t ready to give up the game I love. Based on the way programs are set up in America, there aren’t many opportunities to continue playing field hockey at a high level after college. On top of that, I have always had a passion for traveling, new experiences and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.”
Bozek was in her comfort zone on July 18. She played against sister Dana Bozek in the Hudson Valley Summer Field Hockey League at Lakeland.
“It’s incredible,” said Emma, on being on the same field with Dana. “I am so proud of Dana for how far she has come as a player. So, being able to play side-by-side after years and years of not playing with each other on this field specifically, is pretty heartwarming.”
Emma said before this summer, the last time she had played at Lakeland was when she was a student athlete there.
Dana graduated from Lakeland in 2016, where she won five state titles, was named National Player of the Year, named All-American three times, including first team in 2014 and 2015, along with being a standout lacrosse player, for three years.
Like Emma, Dana, who is a rising senior playing at the University at Albany, enjoyed being on the same field with her sister.
“It’s always fun matching up with her and trying to take the ball,” said Dana, who earned All-Northeast Region first team honors her junior year and was named to the All-Northeast Region second team as a sophomore at Albany. “We’ve always been so competitive, since we were young kids going out on the turf.”
Dana will go against her other sister, Megan Bozek, when Albany hosts the University of New Hampshire at in October.
Megan, a 2010 Lakeland graduate, was a state champion and a two-time second-team All-American for the Hornets, before going on to play at New Hampshire, where she was a two-time All-American and now is an assistant coach.
“It’s funny because me and Meg talk a lot of field hockey together,” said Dana, who plays at Albany with Lakeland grads Julie Papanicolaou and Kelsey McCrudden. “So we’re always calling each other during the season, talking about new scores and new players, whose doing well this season. So, it’s funny when you play against her, because you don’t want to give away too many team tactics, when you are on the phone, but still I’m getting her field-hockey sense in.”
Emma said that she is blessed to have both Dana and Megan in her life and wouldn’t be where she is today with them.
“It was everything,” Emma said of her relationship with her sisters. “It was the reason I could play at UNC and what drove me from a very young age. I am inspired by both of them every day.”
As for the summer league contest, in typical Emma fashion, she perfectly weaved her way through the defense to slam home the game’s final goal.
“Oh please, it was a great pass, and a great assist, down the line from the right middie, so it felt good,” a very humble Emma said.