Not many players can say that they have played every possible minute of their season. But through 12 games, Penn field hockey defender Gracyn Banks was doing just that.
Banks, who is just a sophomore, has played 725 minutes this season over the course of Penn's 13 games, the most of any non-goalie on the team.
During her freshman year, Banks did not see nearly as much action — she only played 81 minutes in total. Taking on a bigger role sounds like a daunting step for an underclassman, but it is exactly what Banks wanted for herself personally and as an important member of the Red and Blue.
“I think the transition started from working hard in the offseason,” Banks said. “I was working on my conditioning and trying to play as much as possible over the summer so I could come into the season as prepared as possible. I’m hoping to take on an even bigger leadership role in the upcoming seasons, as well as help my teammates and myself achieve our goals.”
One thing is for sure — Banks is not shy when it comes to becoming a more vital player on the field. She has received the help of the more experienced Quakers in implementing this change.
“It was an adjustment to step up into such an important role on the team, but it has not been stressful because my team is always so supportive and has helped me each step of the way,” Banks said.
Although she is only a sophomore, Banks hasn’t had a problem stepping up into a more vocal role on the field. As a defender, she has an important role in communication on the field, as she has the best view of the opposing team’s attacking forces.
“I think I have been able to become a voice from the backfield by focusing on my communication within the defense as well as working to get the forwards and midfielders into position," Banks said. "I think that my teammates trust that I always have their backs if the ball does happen to get by them.”
With all the games the Quakers have played this season, it is more important than ever at this point in the season to make sure they are treating their bodies properly.
“[Recovery] is extremely important," Banks said. "Immediately after games, we cool down with some stretching. I always make sure to do an ice bath on Monday mornings after the weekend games to help my muscles recover. We also have massages, which are so nice to help with the soreness after the weekend.”
While the Red and Blue aren’t having the season they would’ve hoped for at 5-8 overall and 2-2 in conference play, they are still focused on winning games and playing at their highest level. With Banks in such an important role, she plans to continue to keep working as hard as possible while also helping her teammates perform at their best.
The Red and Blue will next take the field on Saturday at Ellen Vagelos Field, where they will face Yale in another Ivy contest.