By Michael Bower
Most coaches will rave about strong stick skills, amazing athleticism or blazing speed when asked what trait makes a player standout from the rest.
But that wasn’t the case when Rancho Bernardo High field hockey coach Kate Rudkin was asked about forward Katie Carpenter. Not that Carpenter doesn’t have any of the aforementioned talents, it’s just the junior has something that stands out so much more.
“I know this isn’t the answer you are looking for, but her strength is really her strong desire to win and do well for the team,” Rudkin said. “That really is what makes her a great player, her constant desire to improve her game. She is just really good at hard work.”
And the Broncos are now collecting the benefits on all those summer workout sessions Carpenter had with many of the seniors on this year’s team and injured star sophomore Taylor Jervis.
Carpenter entered this week with a team-high five goals, including two against Eastlake in a 3-1 win and one against San Marcos in a 7-0 blanking by Rancho Bernardo last week. For her efforts, Carpenter is the Integrated Planning Services Athlete of the Week.
“Practicing with the seniors and Taylor Jervis over the summer really helped me a lot,” said Carpenter, who was a backup forward last year before becoming a starter at the position this season. “Just getting on the field and getting help from the other seniors has helped me get the ball in the goal and finish.”
Carpenter raved about the group of talented seniors surrounding her, giving them the credit for her and the team’s fast start to the season. After winning just a few games last year, the Broncos are off to a 4-1 start and are eyeing their first playoff appearance in three years.
“The majority of our team are seniors and I think they want to have a great year to finish with,” said Carpenter, who exclusively played lacrosse until picking up field hockey the summer before her freshman year. “Our seniors are all spread out. We have some on defense, the midfield and the attack. They have all been really great.”
This is certainly the year of the senior for the field hockey team, as the Broncos have 11 of them on the roster. But Carpenter will likely be asked to move into more of a leadership role next year, an area Rudkin says Carpenter will excel.
“She is a quiet, hardworking, get-the-job-done type of player, but I have a feeling that next year she will be a leader,” Rudkin said. “She is one of those kids that will always lead by example and she is just a great kid on and off the field. She is very well respected on campus for her character and kindness.”
Carpenter plans to use both of those traits in the future as either a nurse or working in the field of special education. She has helped the Rancho Bernardo Best Buddies program, an organization that works to enhance lives of people with mental disabilities, by fundraising and doing other activities.
Carpenter’s goal is to continue playing sports in college, but for now she is concentrating on helping the Broncos pile up the victories.
“I love playing high school sports,” she said. “I would be very grateful to get to play at the next level in college; it is definitely one of my goals. But I am pretty much going to wait and see what happens and work my hardest to get there.”
Sounds like a smart move. After all, working hard is what she does best.