In the best season of her collegiate career, senior Kyle deSandes-Moyer is finally seeing her years of hard work pay off.
After a few tumultuous seasons, the Penn field hockey team is clearly on the rise, and deSandes-Moyer can see the difference.
“It’s definitely the first time I really feel like I click with our entire team,” she said. “I can say for a fact that everyone’s on board. They all have the same goals and mindset when they come to practice. Everyone wants to work hard.”
She attributes much of the team’s recent success to third-year coach Colleen Fink, who has created a culture of hard work, even if the results are not yet evident.
“Having that belief for the past few seasons has been tough, but now this season, I feel like it’s going to pay off,” deSandes-Moyer said. “I respect [Fink’s values] a lot because that is the type of player I am. I need to put in hard work to get better. I can’t depend on my skills alone.”
Her belief in Fink’s mindset helped her win the Diane Angstadt Award — given to the team’s most inspirational player — in Fink’s first season.
“It was a tough year trying to instill these new values in players,” deSandes-Moyer said, adding that not all team members were pleased with the new coaching staff. “I just tried to work as hard as I could and stick to what Coach was saying.”
Despite not being named a captain for her senior season, a decision she “did not totally agree with,” deSandes-Moyer has been a model leader.
Fink said she was most proud of deSandes-Moyer when they met after captains were named and deSandes-Moyer promised to be a leader “no matter what.”
“She definitely has stuck to her word and made a commitment to leading this team,” Fink said.
“To me, it doesn’t matter what it says on paper, [leadership] is the attitude that you set forth and bring to practice everyday,” deSandes-Moyer said. “[It’s about] not having a mentally off day, always making sure you’re holding your team accountable.”
On top of juggling senior year and her leadership responsibilities, deSandes-Moyer is also playing defense for the first time. After entering Penn as a forward and moving to the midfield last season, she has now learned to play every position except goalkeeper.
Fink told deSandes-Moyer that the team needed more leadership in the back and thought her skill set fit well as a defensive player.
“It’s a lot of pressure because every time you have a touch on the ball, it could mean something really big, whereas in the midfield, you can get more touches on the ball and you’re afforded more mistakes,” deSandes-Moyer said.
“But it’s fun being the backbone of your team.”
Fink described the senior as a “passionate” player who has learned to better channel her emotion on the field.
“She’s found that balance between control and passion this season, more so than she has in the past,” Fink said.
At 6-6, the Quakers already have their highest win total in the past four years, and by buying into Fink’s program, deSandes-Moyer will leave the Red and Blue in much better shape than when she arrived.
“All of [Fink’s] goals are more so what my goals are as well,” she said. “I think her coaching style aligns better with me and the [underclassmen].”
And it has certainly worked out for deSandes-Moyer and her two fellow seniors.
“We make it pretty clear that this is our last year,” she said, “and we want all the work that we’ve done to pay off and be worth it.”