Sports Person of the Week
Peterlik Makes All-State for Valley Field Hockey
Elena Peterlik recently finished her senior season with the Valley Regional field hockey team. The senior captain earned All-State First Team and All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors for her stellar play this year. (Photo courtesy of Elena Peterlik )
Elena Peterlik has a defensive disposition and she uses that mindset to the benefit of the Valley Regional field hockey team. Elena, a senior captain who plays both defense and the midfield, received All-Shoreline Conference First Team and All-State First Team accolades for her stout play this season. The Warriors recently completed their campaign by playing in the Class S State Tournament, and Elena’s contributions proved huge in their success.
Elena could hardly believe it when Head Coach Beth McCabe-Powers told her that she had been named an All-State player. It’s been a long journey for Elena during her four seasons with the Warriors. She believes that earning All-State honors shows just how much she’s grown as a field hockey player.
“When coach told me, I was in shock. I didn’t know that was something that I was capable of,” Elena says. “I even asked her, ‘Are you serious?’ and she said she wouldn’t kid about that. It’s crazy to think that starting from when I was a freshman—not knowing what I was doing—that as a senior, I would be able to make First Team All-State.”
When it comes to playing defense, Elena tries to offer a variety of looks to frustrate her opponents. One of the most important things for Elena is to get the ball moving back up the field to her teammates on the attack.
“I feel I mix it all together. I get the ball and try to get it up any way I can. I want to figure out the best way to defend someone in the moment,” says Elena, who lives in Chester. “I try to anticipate what they do and get it from there. If I miss, then I have to get back and help the rest of the team out. I can’t abandon my team by giving up as soon as they pass me.”
Even though Elena is primarily a defender, she’s versatile enough that Coach McCabe-Powers has the option to play the senior captain at multiple positions. Elena is always willing to move around based on what the team needs.
“Coach sometimes wanted me as a sweeper, but I have trouble with waiting for the ball coming to me,” Elena says. “I want to run up and get the ball as soon as I can, but moving me to sweeper shows coach has a lot of respect for me and believes I can do it. That and my accomplishments this year have totally changed how I view myself as a player.”
While Elena relentlessly pursues her opponents on the field, she takes a lighter approach as a captain. Elena always tries to provide a pillar of support for her fellow Warriors.
“For me, I think being a captain means that you’re always trying to better the team as a whole by being available for everyone to turn to,” says Elena. “I don’t necessarily want to be the one enforcing things on people or using a strong voice to tell people what they need to do. I try to encourage more than enforce.”
Elena started playing field hockey at John Winthrop Middle School, but she really got an education in the sport after arriving at Valley. Shortly thereafter, Elena settled into her role as a defender.
“When I started my freshman year, I had no idea what I was doing. I was super nervous, and I’m so glad I took that step out my comfort zone to play a sport that I didn’t know how to play,” Elena says. “When I started, I thought I was a left wing. Then coach put me at defense my sophomore year and I started varsity. Who knows where I’d be if coach didn’t recognize that I might be better in a different part of the field?”
Coach McCabe-Powers says that Elena made a huge difference on the squad with her everyday interactions with the Warriors. McCabe-Powers knows that Elena is leaving some big shoes to fill come next season.
“Elena is a talented and dedicated player. She’s totally selfless, and will play any position I ask her to from sweeper, left back, right back, or left midfield,” says McCabe-Powers. “As a captain, Elena is approachable and always willing to help the team with instructions and leading by example with her sportsmanship and skill. Elena has worked so very hard over her time at Valley to rise to the very top of the skilled players we have.”
Valley took a loss to Canton in the first round of the Class S State Tournament last week. Although the Warriors were unable to make it all the way in states, Elena feels proud of what they achieved this season.
“We just missed some opportunities. It’s hard to see when we can’t execute sometimes, but we gave our all,” Elena says. “Starting off 0-4 was difficult, so to come back so far was so great. For me, the outcome is a good one. It means something to me how hard we worked as a team to get there.”
Elena will hit the field again this spring as a defender with the Valley girls’ lacrosse team. Reflecting upon her field hockey career, Elena says that she learned a valuable lesson as result of competing for the Warriors.
“Looking back at my whole experience as a high school athlete, I think it’s important to stick with things, even if you’re not sure if you can do it,” says Elena. “You can do whatever you want. You can work hard. If you’re not succeeding, use that as an opportunity to work hard and not give up on it.”