Van Sickle Discovers True Calling

Caitlin Van Sickle remembers playing a lot of basketball and lot of soccer as she was growing up.

"I was really active," said Van Sickle, a junior at Tower Hill School. "I've always played soccer and basketball. Those were the sports that I played."

But it's another sport, field hockey, that has become Van Sickle's forte.

With Tower Hill winning its second straight state title this year, Van Sickle, a midfielder for the Hillers, was selected by the Delaware Field Hockey Coaches Association as the state's player of the year.

"She's just such a great athlete," Tower Hill coach Robin Adair said about the versatile Van Sickle, whom Adair installed into the Hillers' starting lineup as a freshman in 2004.

Though Van Sickle started playing field hockey in fourth grade, basketball and soccer remained the two sports Van Sickle enjoyed the most -- until she started getting pretty good at field hockey.

"I think that the more she played and the more she enjoyed playing, she just started to do more," Adair said about Van Sickle and field hockey. "Each year, she's learned more and has been willing to to take more risks."

Statistics rarely do a midfielder justice -- Van Sickle had 10 goals and four assists for the Hillers -- but Adair said that fourth assist Van Sickle defined her season.

It came in the state championship game, when Tower Hill defeated William Penn 2-0.

Late in the first half, with the game still scoreless, Van Sickle circled around several William Penn defenders and pushed the ball forward to Caroline Campbell, who scored.

"She's definitely a pressure player," Adair said about Van Sickle. "When things need to be done, she steps up and gets them done, and that was very evident in the final."

If starting for Tower Hill's varsity team as a freshman was a baptism by fire, Van Sickle adapted to learning on the go -- especially since Van Sickle took over the center-midfielder spot previously occupied by Paige Schmidt, the state's player of the year in 2002 and '03. Adair said it was "just the right time" for Van Sickle to get some experience.

"When I was a freshman," Van Sickle said, "I didn't think my stick skills were that good. But now I look at it and I think they're where I need them to be."

And now what is Van Sickle's favorite sport?

"Basketball has been my No. 1 sport for a while," she said. "After this season, I've realized how much I really do love field hockey. I think I want to pursue that more than I want to pursue basketball in college."

- Buddy Hurlock, The News Journal
Reproduced with permission of The News Journal