How a new sport changed her life: Senior Annina Zelkin

April 3, 2016

anninacroppedWhen it comes to being exposed to and getting involved in sports, the great majority of kids are given this introduction through their parents. A child’s parent could have played the sport, could be a coach for the sport or could simply be an avid fan of the sport and wish to see their child take part in it. Senior Annina Zelkin’s mother influenced her to play field hockey. However, her mother’s influence in the sports world is on a slightly larger scale.

“My mom asked if I wanted to play a summer league the summer before ninth grade, and I said sure,” Zelkin said, “even though I had no interest in playing before that.”

But, Zelkin’s mother is no ordinary sports mom.

“She is on the competitions committee for FIH, the International Federation of Hockey,” Zelkin said. “She is the PAFH representative of the FIH, which is for the Pan American Field Hockey Organization. And for USA Field Hockey she’s on the board of directors, in the umpiring committee.”

While being the son or daughter of a coach brings pressure with it, being the daughter of an internationally-recognized referee and board member for a sport brings a different level of duress. Yet, with Zelkin, her mother’s influence was entirely positive.

“She never really made it [pressure filled],” Zelkin said, “which was nice. She was never a crazy coach mom. She was very supportive always with her constructive criticism, and that made it a lot easier.”

While the initial decision to play field hockey came from a suggestion from her mother, the decision to continue playing was Zelkin’s entirely.

“After I started playing, from the minute I picked up a stick, I loved it,” Zelkin said. “I became determined just to be able to do it forever.”

From the very beginning, Zelkin’s drive and ambition to play at a higher level was always there.

“I decided from freshman year that I wanted to play in college,” Zelkin said. “Even though I had to go through unforeseen challenges, I still kept the determination to play just for the love of the game.”

Being able to play a sport in college is difficult enough, but attempting to do so after only starting in high school magnifies the difficulty.

“I had seen it a couple times, but I had no reason to play,” Zelkin said. “I hadn’t touched a field hockey ball or stick until that summer.”

Every athlete undergoes struggles and injuries in their career, but for someone who only started their freshman year, an ACL tear is particularly difficult to come back from.  IMG_7538

“When I decided to start playing I decided that I had to learn everything sophomore year,” Zelkin said. “I kind of lost that learning year because I physically could not move.”

In spite of everything that was going against her, Zelkin pushed through what could have been a career-ending injury and used it to become stronger.

“I lost [my sophomore] year, so instead of being on the field, I had to find other ways to learn and get better,” Zelkin said. “I had to learn the game from a completely different point of view, and in the end, I think I benefitted from it.”

Zelkin could have given up after seeing the leaps and bounds made by her teammates, but her love for the game pushed her forward.

“It was really hard to come back and realize what I had lost and how much better everyone else was,” Zelkin said, “but it didn’t matter. I was going to do it anyways.”

Zelkin is no stranger to perseverance, and her undying spirit earned her a chance to fulfill her dreams, playing field hockey in college.  

“I never thought I was gonna end up at Yale,” Zelkin said. “It’s the perfect fit, the best place I could have ended up.”

No matter what lies ahead for Zelkin, sport or otherwise, one thing is for certain. She will never give up on obtaining her dreams.

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