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Riley Millburne can do it all for the Valley Regional field hockey team. A four-year varsity starter, Riley is playing multiple positions for the Warriors, while leading the team as a senior captain. (Photo courtesy of Riley Millburne )
Riley Millburne has come a long way since her first season as a member of the Valley Regional field hockey team. In her freshman year, Riley earned varsity playing time after having picked up a field hockey stick for the first time just two months before the season. Now, Riley is one of the Warriors’ senior captains, and she’s helping her young club find its way.
Riley had her sights set on becoming a captain for a long time. It’s something that she even started thinking about as a freshman. Now, Riley gets to do that alongside some of her best friends, and that means a lot to her.
“I’ve wanted to be a captain since my freshman year,” says Riley. “As seniors, we are pretty unified. It’s awesome to work together to provide leadership for the team. We all depend on each other to get the job done and to set the best example for the team that we can.”
Riley believes that effective communication is one of the most critical aspects of leading a team as a captain. It’s important for a field hockey squad to work together as a unit in which everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
“I think for the past few years, I’ve been finding my voice on the field. Communication on the field is so important in field hockey. You need to tell people where you are and where you need to be and, being a captain, you have to do that even more, because other players are expecting that of you,” Riley says. “I started varsity as a freshman, and I was depending on the senior captains to do that for me. So, now I’m trying to do that for the younger players.”
One of Riley’s greatest assets on the field is her speed. She also has an excellent sense for being in the right place at the right time. This combination makes Riley difficult for opponents to deal with on the turf.
“I feel like I am a fast player, and I always play really hard. I try to be the first person to the ball and beat the opposing team’s player,” says Riley, who lives in Chester. “I see the field of play really well. Also, I have a really good cross into the circle, which has helped us score a few points.”
Riley is a versatile player who can help the Warriors in multiple situations. This year, Riley is primarily playing on the attack, although her role may change based on Valley’s matchup that day.
“I’m a bit of a utility player. I always just play where our team needs it the most,” Riley says. “I’m more of an offensive attack player. I’ve played drop center forward and floater. I don’t really have a definite position now. It depends on the team that we’re facing.”
Riley feels proud about the fact that she contributed to the varsity squad after joining the Warriors with no experience as a freshman. Riley has improved a lot since then and even earned All-Shoreline Second Team honors as a right wing last fall. Riley knows that jumping around to different positions may hamper her chances of collecting more awards this year. However, she prefers winning over any individual accolades.
“Just maintaining a starting position on the team for four years is great to me. I’ve been a true varsity player all those years, and I’ve seen myself develop as one of the weakest players on the field to one of the strongest,” says Riley, who also plays second base for the Valley softball squad. “I played right wing pretty solidly last year, and I got All-Shoreline Second Team. This year, it might be a bit harder for me to get one of those awards since I move around so much, but honestly, one award at the end of the year doesn’t matter to me versus being able to help the team out.”
Head Coach Beth McCabe-Powers values the type of player that Riley has become during her tenure with the team. McCabe-Powers feels that Riley makes her biggest impact as a strong attacker and a solid leader.
“Riley’s senior leadership on the field and the willingness to put the team above herself never fails to amaze me. She has been asked to help anchor a young attack line and is doing a great job leading and being our upfront field general,” McCabe-Powers says. “Riley is an outstanding example of what work ethic and dedication looks like in high school sports. She works tirelessly on her skills in the offseason and helps the younger players learn valuable skills. Riley gives 100 percent every time she steps on the field and leads with a positive attitude and provides positive feedback for the whole team.”
After a slow start to the year, Valley picked up a couple of big wins in recent action. Riley believes that’s a taste of things to come for the Warriors, and she’s going to do everything in her power to help make this season a success.
“The first couple of games, we were trying to work out our magic. After the game we played at Woodstock, I think we’ve found our magic,” says Riley. “It felt more like a normal game for us. Everybody felt like they were in the right position and, I think going forward, we’re going to have a better outcome.”