With her breakaway goal just a little over three minutes into overtime, Schuylkill Valley graduate Brooke Sands got the eighth-ranked Messiah College women’s field hockey team off on the right foot with a 2-1 victory over Stevens Institute of Technology on Aug. 30.
It was the 29th career goal at Messiah for Sands, who begins her senior season as one of three captains on the team. Her tenacity and versatility puts her both at forward and midfield, but she contributes most by scoring goals.
“I feel that my field hockey career at Messiah has been one that has truly helped me not only grow as a hockey player, but also as a person,” said Sands.
“Many student athletes go off to college hoping or expecting to have a great career, but I truly think that coming to Messiah has provided me with a great hockey career because I continue to play because I love the game and love the other ladies that are on my team. If my experience were any different, it wouldn’t have made my field hockey career at Messiah as enjoyable or memorable as it has been thus far.”
After four seasons on the Schuylkill Valley High School field hockey team in which she scored 17 goals and had 13 assists, she went on the play for the Messiah College team where she made an impact from the very start.
As a freshman Sands was fourth on the team in scoring with 12 goals and five assists.
“The transition from high school to college level field hockey was not very difficult for me,” said Sands. “Sure, it’s more fast-paced and we play on a different surface, but playing hockey for a club team as well as going through some of the USA field hockey chain by participating in Futures helped me to develop my skill and play in games which were faster and more skilled than playing in a regular high school game or on grass.”
Brooke started playing soccer when she was in second grade where she was coached in youth league by her mother. She quickly fell in love with the sport and in seventh grade started playing for High Styx.
Through the club team she played in the National Field Hockey Festival, the National Indoor Tournament in Virginia Beach, and the National Futures Championship and Showcase.
When it came time to choose a college, she wanted to play field hockey, but for her academics always came first. One of the reasons she chose Messiah is that academics comes first there as well.
“Playing field hockey is a privilege, and I think sometimes that can be overlooked when academics is not put before athletics by the coaches and of staff of the school,” said Sands. “When classes are missed, professors are usually very understanding and flexible as long as you approach them well in advance of when you will be missing, and it’s on you to finish any work by the time they ask of you, even if that means turning it in prior to missing class.”
Although academics always comes first for Sands, she has flourished on the field hockey field as well. After collecting 29 points in her freshman season, she had seven goals and five assists as a sophomore, and nine goals and three assists as a junior. But according to the Messiah College head field hockey coach Brooke Good, she is much more than just a goal scorer.
“Brooke is a very dedicated and hard-working athlete,” said Good. “She consistently puts the time and energy into her physical training and skill development in order to be one of the strongest players on our team.
She also has great field presence and is always thinking through different strategies that will contribute to the team’s overall success.”
Sands gives much of the success she has enjoyed to her teammates, but her biggest influence came from her mother, who was a field hockey coach at Kennard-Dale High School before Brooke was born.
“I loved the game immediately, and she has since always pushed me and encouraged me to play as long as I enjoyed and loved the game,” said Sands. “She has always supported my desire to play, and has always reminded me that there is so much more to life than field hockey, and that has taught me to be humbled, helping me to grow to be the person I am today.”
Sands is a health and physical education major at Messiah and her first choice is to teach health or physical education at the grade school level. She is also looking into getting a sports management masters and maybe teach at the college level. She says that she is currently “weighing her options.”
She would love to see her team make it to the Final Four, and play for the national championship like they did during her freshman season. But win or lose, she believes her time at Messiah College was a very positive experience.
“Everyone’s college experiences are different, especially when athletics are thrown into the mix,” said Sands. “I wouldn’t trade my experience here at Messiah for any of the experiences my friends or family members have had at other schools. Sure, athletic levels are different, academic majors are different, but I’m amazed at how much coming to Messiah for the past three years has helped me to grow, not only as a field hockey player, but as a friend, daughter, sister, teammate and Christian.”