OXFORD, Ohio - On Feb. 6, the Miami University field hockey team announced the six recruits that will be joining the team on the field this fall. Today (Feb. 13), in the second of a three-article series, MURedHawks.com looks at two of the new RedHawks, Grace Leeker (St. Louis, Mo./ Villa Duchesne) and Kate McLaughlin (Chester Springs, Pa./ Downingtown East).
Grace Leeker (St. Louis, Mo./Villa Duchesne)
Leeker was a three-year letterwinner at midfield for Villa Duchesne High School. She scored 15 goals and had nine assists while leading the Saints to the semifinals of the Missouri State Tournament in 2012. She was named Metro League Player of the Year as a senior in 2012. Leeker played for the Aim club and earned a silver medal at the United States Field Hockey Association Festival last year.
"I chose Miami because I fell in love with the people, the campus, the classes and the opportunities it would give me," said Leeker. "I knew Miami would make me grow as a person and being able to play field hockey there is just another thing that I know will bring me more opportunities to succeed."
"Grace is another great kid we've gotten from Missouri," commented Miami head field hockey coach Iñako Puzo. "She's shown in many different tournaments what she is able to do on the field. She's a very athletic player who has run track in high school. Grace has very good hands and impresses us each time we see her with how much she has improved."
Leeker's father Mark had examined Miami very closely while helping his daughter make her decision, and he was positive she had found the right fit.
"We have a great deal of comfort with Miami from an academic and cultural perspective, and the conduct of everyone involved with this process made us even more comfortable that Miami was the right choice for Grace," said Mark Leeker. "It was very important to us as parents that Grace continues her field hockey career at a school that provided her with great opportunities on all fronts. We have no doubt that Miami does so."
Lauren Cornthwaite, Leeker's coach on her Aim club team, raved about Leeker's athletic abilities and how that will benefit the Miami field hockey squad.
"Grace Leeker is one of the best athletes I have coached through the Aim club," said Cornthwaite. "She is strong, athletic, confident and very talented. Her presence on the field is always noted. She is a great fit for Miami, and her strong work ethic will be contagious. She has incredible deception on the ball and is solid on both the attacking and defending ends. Grace brought much success to Aim, and I look forward to watching her do the same for Miami and the RedHawks. She is a true competitor who loves to help her teammates succeed."
Kate McLaughlin (Chester Springs, Pa./ Downingtown East)
McLaughlin was a three-year letterwinner as a midfielder and forward for Downingtown East High School. She earned All-Chest Mont League honors as a senior. McLaughlin played her club field hockey for the Mystx Club and participated on the National Indoor College Showcase All-Star Team as a junior. Her sister Corie will be a junior on Saint Joseph's field hockey team in 2013.
"I chose Miami because it has the great business school I was looking for, along with incredible coaches and a team that I connected with," said McLaughlin. "I fell in love with Miami the second I stepped on the campus."
"The most impressive thing about Kate is that she can play in different positions in the field," said Puzo. "Because of her fitness level, her basic skills and her discipline, she can fill both the role of a defender and a striker and still be effective. Kate made her commitment to Miami about a year ago. I felt that since that moment she has become even more disciplined and excited about her opportunity to play Division I field hockey."
Kate's mother Cathy was very effusive in her praise of Miami throughout the whole process.
"After making the decision to join the Miami family, Kate just kept saying how lucky she felt," said Cathy McLaughlin. "Those are (mine and my husband's) sentiments exactly. We are so grateful to Iñako and Chip for allowing her this opportunity. We have full confidence that Kate will make the most of her time at Miami, both on and off the field, and we are really looking forward to being RedHawk fans!"
Mystx coach Tina Reinprecht explains some of the attributes that McLaughlin brings to the RedHawks:
"Kate is a passionate, positive team player," said Reinprecht. "Her quick release makes her a threatening circle player. Kate is always absorbing both technical and tactical information to both improve her individual play and most importantly, to further improve the outcome of the team. She is an absolute pleasure to coach."
Check back on Friday for the final recruit preview, where Geagy Pritchard (Baltimore, Md./Garrison Forest School) and Kelsi White (Louisville, Ky./Dupont Manual) will be profiled.