“Keeping Up with Kas­sidy,”

RIS­ING SE­NIOR IS ONE OF BERGEN’S BEST FIELD HOCKEY PLAY­ERS IN YEARS

201 Family - - CONTENTS - Darren Cooper

Darren has been The Record’s lo­cal sports columnist since 2010. He is from South­ern Louisiana and a grad­u­ate of LSU and is al­ways look­ing for good jam­bal­aya. He lives in Es­sex County with his wife and three boys.

Kas­sidy Shetler watches the cook­ing show Chopped and re­al­izes her Oreo-in­fused brown­ies prob­a­bly aren’t good enough to win. “I just sit there and say, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I want to take any­thing in the pantry and make some­thing amaz­ing,” the Ramsey High School se­nior says.

When it comes to field hockey, Shetler, 17, cre­ates amaz­ing com­bi­na­tions. Her speed and stick skills make her one of the top play­ers to come out of Bergen County in years. She led the Rams to the 2015 Bergen County ti­tle and com­mit­ted to play for Rut­gers the sum­mer before her ju­nior sea­son.

Field hockey does not get the same recog­ni­tion as other sports in North Jer­sey. It’s largely over­shad­owed by foot­ball and soc­cer in the fall. But the game is com­pet­i­tive and ath­letic. It’s ex­actly as it’s called, hockey on a field. Play­ers like Shetler could help bridge the pop­u­lar­ity gap. She can play, even if a lot of peo­ple aren’t sure what she is car­ry­ing in her lug­gage when she goes to tour­na­ments.

“I’ve been to Cal­i­for­nia and Vir­ginia and Florida and I bring my field hockey stick, and in the air­port peo­ple are con­stantly ask­ing me, ‘What is that?’” laughs Shetler.

“It would be great if more schools in the area gave it a chance be­cause it re­ally is a great sport to watch,” Re­becca Fantry, Ramsey field hockey coach, says. “The sport it­self has also changed to be a more fan-friendly game. It moves a lot quicker and has less stop­pages of play.”

Shetler was al­ways play­ing sports grow­ing up and cred­its her grand­fa­ther, Robert Hands, for getting her in­volved and ac­tive. Her aunt was a stand­out field hockey player at North­ern High­lands before hurt­ing her knee, but Shetler didn’t try field hockey un­til eighth grade. She was more into soc­cer, soft­ball and bas­ket­ball.

“A friend used to talk about field hockey and say it was so much fun and I was like, ‘No, that is stupid, why would I ever want to do that?’”

Even­tu­ally, Shetler broke down and gave it a try. It was love at first stick.

“I can’t ex­plain it,” Shetler says. “I just liked the con­cept of the game. I liked that it’s a team sport and it’s so different than your or­di­nary sports you see ev­ery day.”

Fantry says, “I re­mem­ber telling my Dad, who was help­ing me coach my mid­dle school team when Kas­sidy was in eighth grade, she was go­ing to be some­thing. I just kept telling him that she was go­ing to be the next great thing.”

Shetler could not get enough of the sport. She started to prac­tice ev­ery day, fore­hand strokes and back­hand strokes. She set up an ob­sta­cle course in her bed­room to drib­ble around. She joined a club team, “G-Force,” and started work­ing with them. Her goal was sim­ple: make Ramsey’s var­sity field hockey team as a fresh­man.

“My mom said I had been only play­ing for a year, but I said I was go­ing to do it, I prom­ise,” Shetler says.

Fantry knew what she had in Shetler. She was only 5-foot-4, but had quick­ness, plus she could move the ball with­out hav­ing to slow down. Putting Shetler on the var­sity team as a fresh­man seemed like a log­i­cal step in her de­vel­op­ment.

“I knew I had to get her in the mix work­ing with my older play­ers so she could gain that ex­pe­ri­ence and learn from them,” Fantry says. “I think hav­ing her be on that field fresh­man year made a huge dif­fer­ence for her as it gave her the taste of want­ing to be bet­ter and know­ing what it took to com­pete at the next level.”

Shetler still prac­tices daily. She gave up her other sports in fa­vor of field hockey, at­tends skill clin­ics at Rut­gers, and watches col­lege field hockey games on her com­puter.

“I can’t ex­plain what I love about it,” Shetler says. “I love ev­ery as­pect of the game. I love the different things you can do. I love how you can be cre­ative. I love all the skills the in­ter­na­tional play­ers have. I love every­thing about it.”

At Ramsey, Shetler plays the left in­ner po­si­tion. To use a soc­cer anal­ogy, it’s kind of like a for­ward. For her club team, she’s a mid­fielder.

Last sea­son, Shetler helped the Rams win the Bergen County ti­tle and reach the North 1, Group 2 fi­nal by scor­ing a ridicu­lous 35 goals, along with 22 as­sists. Field hockey may be a fast game, but some teams go whole sea­sons with­out scor­ing 35 goals.

“Her tal­ent is some of the best I’ve seen in my nine years of coach­ing,” Fantry says. “She gets along great with her team­mates and is very un­selfish. She is hun­gry to score, but she also sets up her team­mates to be suc­cess­ful, which makes her more of a threat.”

This sea­son, Shetler will once again be a marked player in North Jer­sey. She says she gets pushed around some, so she pushes right back.

At Rut­gers, she’s plan­ning on go­ing in un­de­cided, and if she doesn’t find some­thing she likes, she may try her hand at the Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Amer­ica and study the con­cept of sa­vory, mean­ing the prepa­ra­tion of meats.

“She loves the game. She loves Rut­gers, this is go­ing to be a great mix,” Fantry says. “Kas­sidy is in­quis­i­tive and pas­sion­ate, and those are things coaches can’t teach. I think she is go­ing to be ex­tremely suc­cess­ful there and she is go­ing to help them con­tinue to be suc­cess­ful. This is a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for her and I’m ex­tremely proud of her.”

“KAS­SIDY IS IN­QUIS­I­TIVE AND PAS­SION­ATE, AND THOSE ARE THINGS COACHES CAN’T TEACH.” Re­becca Fantry, Ramsey High School field hockey coach

LEADING SCORER Kas­sidy Shetler (99) net­ted her 32nd goal of the sea­son to seal Ramsey High School’s vic­tory over North­ern High­lands Re­gional in the 2015 Bergen County Cham­pi­onship. It was the school’s sec­ond ti­tle in a row.

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