Sophomore Elizabeth Hitti has always loved hockey, but it hasn’t always been the kind played on turf.
The Boston native grew up in the heart of Bruins country and has been a diehard hockey fan for as long as she can remember.
But her love of the game wasn’t just limited to her fanhood. Hitti was an impressive ice hockey player growing up, eventually leading to her being captain of the varsity team in high school.
It wasn’t until her father’s work moved the family to England for two years when she was 11 that she was introduced to her current love: field hockey.
“My heart was pretty set on ice hockey and soccer until I went overseas,” Hitti said. “But in school there, they play field hockey, not soccer, so I was forced to pick it up, but it actually came really naturally for me and I fell in love with it.”
Her time on the ice and the soccer field has made the transition to the turf that much easier.
“In ice hockey, you need stick skills and it’s such a fast game, so still being able to stickhandle but then getting to spread the field like in soccer really prepared me well to excel in field hockey," Hitti said.
It’s her incredibly athletic background, particularly her ice hockey skills, that most attracted coach Colleen Fink to Hitti.
“She’s shifty and can change directions,” Fink said. “She has fast hands, so one on one offensively, she has the ability to get around people.”
Fink, who wasn’t shy about her high expectations for Hitti, was very pleased with her first year with the Red and Blue last season. She started all 17 games — the only freshman to do so — thanks in part to one of the best Quakers debuts in recent history when she chipped in a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over Lehigh.
“My favorite thing about her is that she is a nontraditional player that’s extremely competitive,” Fink said. “She was a momentum changer and that was inspiring for the staff and the players on the field.”
And though Hitti has already earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition after tallying six goals and six assists on the year, Fink believes that she can be even better.
“This is a second year now and she’s learning our system, which will be a huge help,” Fink said. “She has the stick skills, and we’re working hard on her shot so she can be even more of an offensive threat and score after she beats a defender one on one.”
And though Hitti had at one point dreamed of playing both field and ice hockey in college, there came a point where she had to make a decision of which stick to use full time.
“I thought I had peaked in ice hockey, but field hockey was still new to me and I believed I could keep improving every year and make a big impact on a team, so it definitely seemed like the right decision for me.”
The Red and Blue are surely happy that she made that decision.
For a program in the midst of a renaissance, having a mainstay like Hitti in the lineup for the next three years can only mean better things are to come.