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10-09-2021-field-hockey-versus-cornell-allison-kuzyk-carol-gao
Sophomore Allison Kuzyk turns the ball towards the Cornell Goal at Ellen Vagelos field on Oct. 9. Credit: Carol Gao

When a young Allison Kuzyk went to the park one day, she never thought that she would find something that would change her life forever. 

Being from Vancouver, Canada, Kuzyk was frequently exposed to the nation’s most popular sport in ice hockey and started playing it when she was seven years old. But at the park that one day, she saw people running with hockey sticks across a nearby field, and her mom, who played field hockey in high school, suggested she go join them. 

Kuzyk, a sophomore, played every sport she had access to in her youth, including basketball, ice hockey, track and field, cross country, and of course, field hockey. Though she enjoyed playing each sport, field hockey clearly stuck out to her from her immense success in the sport and her enjoyment in playing it. 

Kuzyk’s talent and track record on the field has earned her a spot on Canada’s junior national team, which gives her an opportunity to play on the Olympic team within the next ten years if she chooses to continue with field hockey after college. 

At Penn, Kuzyk is currently undecided on her major, but is considering a combination of neuroscience and urban studies. 

When Penn announced that the fall semester of 2020 would be remote, it was a blessing in disguise for Kuzyk, as it gave her an opportunity to train harder for NCAA competition by regularly practicing with the junior national team and training with her high school teammates, who were also in a similar situation. She partly credits that time back home for some of her early success this season. 

When she arrived in Philadelphia during the spring, Kuzyk was initially intimidated by the new scene, but credits the upperclassmen on the team, especially senior captain Gracyn Banks, for helping her adjust to a new environment on and off the field. 

In 11 matches since the start of the season, Kuzyk is tied for second on the team in goals (2) and points (4). 

Before each match, she gets a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee before heading to the locker room to listen to music and get pumped with the rest of the team.

Her favorite moments were an unexpected call-up against then No. 5 Louisville in the season opener, in which she scored the Quakers lone goal in a 3-1 loss, and a 2-1 overtime win against Cornell on Alumnae Day. 

“Throughout the season, I think that I have improved a lot on my game through getting used to playing with mew teammates and adapting the more physical style of the NCAA, which is on a higher lever than back in Canada,” Kuzyk said. “The losses to Princeton and Harvard were tough, but overall, our team has improved a lot and it gives us a good base to build off for next season. Before I graduate, I hope to win an Ivy League championship.”

Penn coach Colleen Fink has been impressed with Kuzyk’s progress so far on and off the field, and envisions a bright future for her.

“Allison has transitioned very well so far to the NCAA standards and college life," Fink said. "She has great fundamentals and has adapted well to the speed and the level of tactical game planning and scheming of the college game. She relies not only on her physical tools, but also her mental skills as well. She has a dynamic personality, made good bonds, is great at developing relationships, very reasonable, very mature, focused on developing leadership for greater role in future.” 

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