“Roller coaster of emotions” season for a student from the East


Jacey Wittel and the Pocono Mountain East field hockey team have had a roller coaster season.

Acting as the knee bar that protected Wittel and his teammates at every turn was the bond between teammates who, when forced to be physically distant, stayed connected.

The roller coaster jerks and pops began ahead of the team’s fall season. The cancellation of East’s summer field hockey practices has plunged players into the unknown.

“We didn’t even know if we were going to have a season,” Wittel said.

The Ascension arrived with the news that there would be, after all, a 10-game field hockey season.

Relief was short lived for Wittel and his mother, Amber, head field hockey coach from East, both of whom had to quarantine themselves away from the team after close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 – just as workouts were due to start.

Wittel kept fit through training at home, then returned in time for East’s opener, a 12-0 win over East Stroudsburg North on September 25. Time away from his teammates couldn’t stop Wittel from leading the team with four goals and two assists.

The season from that point on continued to climb beyond the days of uncertainty, as the Cardinals compiled a 6-0 record through mid-October, including back-to-back 1-0 wins. in overtime against their rival Stroudsburg.

But then, as is often the case with roller coasters, came another plunge.

A member of the Eastern field hockey team has tested positive for COVID-19, which means the season would end. A two-week team-wide quarantine meant the cardinals could return just in time for the districts.

How they would be prepared, however, without playing or even training as a team has become the question. Training at home can be enough to keep anyone in shape, but maintaining the chemistry would be important for a team looking to go undefeated.

With the team physically separate, Wittel said the use of technology kept the team together. Wittel and his teammates filled the team’s group chat with “sweaty selfies” – a fun way to share the sweaty results of a race or workout.

Wittel said the team have also formed themselves into “accountability partners”, giving each player a teammate responsible for directly motivating and supporting throughout the quarantine period.

“Everyone was really encouraging each other,” Wittel said. “We’re all like best friends.”

The encouragement fed the team during the two weeks of absence, until the beginning of the districts.

East had enough time for just one team practice before their opener against East Stroudsburg South in the District 11 playoffs. Wittel said it was a tough practice after going so long without playing any games. ‘team, but the group chat link kept the team together.

“I don’t know if we felt completely ready (to play in the South),” Wittel said. “Because we were training, sending pictures of ourselves running, I think that’s what made us feel ready even though we had two weeks off, for example, for the training sessions. ‘team.”

Whether they’re ready or not, the Cardinals beat South 6-1 in the district semifinals. The championship game meant facing the also undefeated Southern Lehigh.

A 2-1 loss to Southern Lehigh in the district title game ended East’s season with disappointment, but Wittel said no one bowed their heads after the loss. Wittel said the whole season had played with her emotions “like crazy” with grief being part of the ride.

Despite the ups and downs, Wittel remains positive as he looks back on this unique season.

“It was different, but I’m just glad we had a season and everything went well at the end,” said Wittel. “Having friends on your team really, like, especially during the pandemic, just pushed us through the tough times.”

Wittel will play Division I field hockey for the University of Iowa in the fall, where she will earn a journalism degree.

Frank Piscani is Sports Life’s multimedia reporter at Pocono Record. You can email him at [email protected] or find him on social media platforms @frankpiscani.


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