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Schreyer Scholar sharpens organizational skills to continue competition

First-year Schreyer Scholar and Smeal College student Torey Josowitz raised funds and recruited new players to ensure her high school field hockey team kept playing. Credit: Jeff Rice / Penn StateCreative Commons

Torey Josowitz began her final season of high school club field hockey without enough players to field a full lineup, an established coach, or enough money to travel to games.

Ten seniors from the previous year’s team at Pittsburgh’s Taylor Allderdice High School had graduated, leaving Josowitz and one other senior, two juniors, and two sophomores – and only the seniors had driver’s licenses. The small annual stipend the team received from the school wasn’t nearly enough to cover the cost of buses to away games or the equipment expenses.

Josowitz was undeterred.

“I didn’t want to give up on it,” said Josowitz, now a first-year Scholar in the Schreyer Honors College. “I had dedicated three years of my life to it.”

The first issue was finding more players. Josowitz had attended a summer camp with several girls who would be starting at Allderdice in the fall, so she reached out to them. They showed up at the first practice with friends, about a dozen players total.

The new players were willing to literally pay their dues – the means by which the team normally secured most of its needed funding – but the squad needed more for transportation following the departure of the large group of seniors. Josowitz helped organize a fundraiser with a local Chipotle restaurant, which gave 50 percent of the profits it made on sales to patrons who brought in a team flier, as well as sales of car magnets and T-shirts.

Once the team began practicing, Josowitz said, the players realized the goalie equipment was “done for,” so a school adviser helped them set up a GoFundMe campaign, which raised enough money to cover the cost of that equipment plus additional sticks for new players who couldn’t afford them.

“We really wanted everyone who wanted to play be able to play,” Josowitz said.

The team also needed someone to coach those players. The season before, it had been led by a pair of local college students. But they, too, had graduated. For the first three weeks of the season, the team played without a coach.

The seniors assured anxious parents that a coach was indeed on the way, and they wound up finding two: Ellen Burgess, who at the time was a student at the University of Pittsburgh and had played on the university’s club field hockey team; and Jamie Scott, a Penn State graduate who had played field hockey for Allderdice.

With more experienced instructors guiding their practices, the young players began to improve rapidly.

“By the end of the season, they were getting the hang of it,” Josowitz said.

The team tied two of its games and lost the rest, but Josowitz took away some valuable lessons from the experience.

“I think it will help me in the future to understand how many people need to be there to finish a project or how much money you actually need to get from Point A to Point B,” said the Smeal College of Business student. “That’s the kind of thing I want to get into. I feel like I’m good at managing things.”

She was also involved with her school’s chapter of Becca’s Closet, a nonprofit organization that helps provided donated formal dresses and shoes for high school proms. As part of a work release program at the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh, she assisted with preschool gym classes, coached middle school basketball, and helped plan and execute a day of community service through J-Serve Pittsburgh.

During her first few weeks at Penn State, she has attended a meeting for Springfield FTK, a special interest organization for the Dance Marathon, and has taken an interest in Penn State Hillel.

Field hockey probably isn’t in her immediate future, but what she learned from keeping the team together should serve Josowitz well in any undertaking.

“You can either sit and watch,” she said, “or you can take control and actually get things done.”

Last Updated September 13, 2017