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Top of her game Hoenich earns position as medical manager for U.S. National teams
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
When the U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team competed at the World League Round 2 Tournament in Rio de Janeiro in early March, Lititz’s Jessica Hoenich had a front-row seat.
She might not have needed an airplane seat to get home, however.
The 1993 Warwick High School grad was no doubt floating on air from Brazil.
It was at the end of that trip when USA Field Hockey officially offered Hoenich the position as the medical manager for both the men’s and women’s national squads.
Needless to say, she accepted.
"I’m having an absolute ball," Hoenich said. "With field hockey being my own sport, and just coming back to Lancaster County at this level and working with the staff and the women that I’m working with, it’s a lot of fun every day."
Once the women’s team officially gets settled into Lancaster’s Spooky Nook facility (the home base for USA Field Hockey), Hoenich and the rest will have even more fun. They moved to the area from Chula Vista, Calif. in mid-July, but with the turf field and other quarters not quite completed at the Nook, the women have made good use of their suitcases.
Over the past six months or so, the squad has been everywhere from Penn State University, Ursinus College and even Rutgers University before going to London, England for World League Round 3 in June. The U.S. women are hoping that they will be able to move into Spooky Nook full-time at the beginning of September.
"Right now, we’re trying to find an area where we can train that has the same type of turf that we play on internationally," said Hoenich, who previously played field hockey at Warwick and Old Dominion University. "We’re anxious (to finally get acclimated to Spooky Nook). Just going into the facility and seeing what it is that we are going to be coming into is very exciting and enticing. We are all just ready to get out of our suitcases, get out of the cars and actually settle in."
Her tenure working with Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster was a fulfilling one as well. As talks began regarding OAL opening a new office at Spooky Nook, along with U.S. Field Hockey coming on board, one thing led to another for Hoenich.
The relationship that she has with the orthopedic doctors, physicians and rehab group, coupled with Hoenich’s background in field hockey, made her a logical candidate for the Licensed Athletic Trainer’s (LAT) opening with the national teams. It didn’t hurt that she also had previous experience with the Olympic Committee’s medical athletic training staff in the bobsled and skeleton events.
"I had knowledge that the position was going to be open and that it was going to be located in Lancaster County," Hoenich said. "So I jumped on it and put my application through."
Once the pool of candidates was narrowed down to five, she was still in the mix. A conference-call style interview followed and Hoenich eventually learned that she was one of two finalists for the job.
That earned her a trip to Chula Vista where she was evaluated while working with the athletes who were training there.
"That was the beginning of February, and at the end of that week, they said that I was most likely going to be the selected person," Hoenich said. "But they wanted to give me the opportunity to actually travel with the team on the road to see exactly what I would be getting myself into as far as lifestyle."
A short time later, Hoenich boarded a plane for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the rest – as they say – is history.
Besides executing the responsibilities of a Licensed Athletic Trainer for the national teams, Hoenich is also the liaison between the athletes and the doctors, doing appointment scheduling, medical billing and more.
Certainly, Hoenich has been working some long hours with the athletes since stepping into her new position, but it’s all been worthwhile.
"It’s been an awesome experience. We’re with each other a very good portion of the day and weeks right now," Hoenich said. "It’s a little more extensive than what I’m used to, but this is high performance and this is Olympic-quality athletes, so I would expect anything less."
One of those Olympic-quality athletes with whom Hoenich is working is Warwick grad Meghan Beamesderfer, who played for the Lady Warriors’ field hockey team when Hoenich was the Athletic Trainer Certified (ATC) there from 1999 to 2006.
"For the interview that I went to in February, when I walked onto the field, it actually coincided with the first day that (coach Craig Parnham) was hired," Hoenich said. "So we both came in at the same time, and when we both walked out to introduce ourselves to the team, Meghan was there. I had no idea that she was on the team, so it was just an awesome reunion. It was a lot of fun."
There figures to be a lot of fun days ahead too. Barring anything unforeseen, Hoenich will accompany the U.S. national teams to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"The relationships with the women build on a daily basis and the staff is phenomenal – we have a lot of fun," she said. "So yeah, I’m hoping I’m part of this group that gets to go and do something special in 2016."
Hoenich still gets a feeling of awe every time she pulls on her polo shirt with the USA logo. She continues to have a great sense of national pride being a member of the U.S. teams.
Asked what her goal is long-term as an athletic trainer, Hoenich said, "This is pretty ultimate goal at this point. I’m still fairly new and fresh in the position and as I said, I’m learning things regularly, I’m being challenged regularly and as long as that happens, it’s a great place to be. I mean, you’re here for your country, you’re representing your country, you’re representing your profession, and lucky me, I’m also doing it in Lancaster County with all the people that have helped me and taught me along the way and have mentored me. So I’m representing them in a way as well. But at this point, Olympic team and High Performance, I don’t know that there’s anything better. I’m not really looking for anything other than this right now because I’m having a ball and it’s just a great place to be."
More HOENICH, page B-3