Even though the pandemic took away her chance to compete, MacKenzie Oberholzer was able to make the most of her senior field hockey season.
MacKenzie began the unusual season without much hope of playing games against other schools this fall. She says that despite that, she knew how much it meant to her teammates for her to still participate. “I wanted to be there for them, to see that just because I lost my senior season doesn’t mean I will bail on them.”
Her teammates buoyed her, especially fellow goalie Alexis Bowman ’20. “Having her push me just like she would in a regular season gave me the drive to show up every day and give my all,” says MacKenzie, a Psychology major.
It was not always easy for MacKenzie to keep her positive attitude as the prospects of playing games grew dimmer. She recalls a moment after one of her first practices: she broke down, unsure of whether she could continue. Fortunately, her coaches were there to guide her. “Having them talk me through it and reminding me how much of a role I play on our team just by being there for my teammates is what made me want to stay.”
An added stressor during this time is that MacKenzie is 700 miles away from her family in Maryland. Despite the distance, her mom helped her get past the negatives of this year. “She always reminds me to look at the bright side and be grateful for what I have,” she notes.
Without outside competition, the field hockey team again made the most of their situation by holding their senior day celebration at an intra-squad scrimmage towards the end of the season. Although MacKenzie’s mom could not attend, she recorded a message that was played over the sound system during the ceremony – a little piece of home on the special day.
MacKenzie has been able to take positives like that out of this experience, along with an even greater appreciation for the sport she treasures. “You never really know how much you love something until it is taken away from you,” she reflects. “I am truly blessed that I even got an opportunity to step on the field with my team and wear my equipment – not everyone had the chance to do that this year.”
*This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 Thomas Magazine & Annual Report.