By Jimmy Allinder
The sweet sound of a rock-hard field hockey ball slamming against the back of a wooden goal box is one Olivia Tucker loves so much. It doesn’t happen often in a sport where 1-0 games are the rule rather than the exception, but when Tucker or one of her Monroe Township High School teammates blast a shot past the goaltender, it’s music to the ears.
“That noise is one of my favorite things about field hockey,” said Tucker, a rising senior and midfielder for the two-time defending Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) champions. “I won’t ever get tired of hearing it.”
Tucker banged home three goals a year ago and finding the box more often is at the top of her wish list this fall, when the Falcons hope to continue their reign as the conference’s top team. In the last two GMC championship games, Monroe has shut out rival South Plainfield High School by 2-0 and 1-0 scores.
“I have been working on my shots and stick skills in preparation for the upcoming season,” said Tucker, who also plays lacrosse in the spring. “Hopefully, I’ll hear that sound a lot more. I also have high hopes my team can keep our GMC title streak alive.”
As a midfielder for the lacrosse team, Tucker netted 20 goals, but the higher number is understandable because shots are fired at much higher speeds and are harder to stop. Monroe finished 14-7 and made it to the GMC title game before losing to North Brunswick Township High School, 21-12.
Despite the disparity in scoring, Tucker is equally enamored with each sport because she enjoys the action and fast pace.
“I don’t plan to play varsity field hockey or lacrosse in college, but I will get involved in club field hockey and possibly club lacrosse,” Tucker said. “After visiting the University of Delaware, I fell in love with the big-school campus environment, so I’m going to visit American University and Rutgers University.”
Just as Tucker enjoys sports, she is serious about her schoolwork. Her grade-point average computes to a 92, and she is a member of the high school’s National Honor Society and Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) chapters. She was also vice president of her junior class and was elected again to the office this upcoming year. Among her outside activities, Tucker is involved in the Heroes and Cool Kids program.
Before she began playing outdoor sports, she was focused on competitive gymnastics. But when she entered high school, the social scene became important and Tucker found herself yearning to play team sports so she could meet other people.
“My older neighbors and friends raved about field hockey and lacrosse and begged me to try them,” Tucker said. “I’m glad I did because I’ve been able to bond with girls who are now some of my best friends because we love those sports.”
Olivia’s father and mother, Glen and Samantha, and younger brother, Max, represent the core of her support team, cheering her on in the fall and spring.
“Whether or not I want to hear it, I always know I’ll get a critique of my performance from them,” she said. “But that’s OK. My parents have helped me develop a balance between sports and school by making sure I’m on top of my studies.
“I find I’m most productive when I have less time to complete tasks. I know that during the offseason (winter), I tend to procrastinate about doing homework, but that doesn’t happen during the season.”
As Tucker prepares to enter her final year of high school, she already has enough memories to last a lifetime.
“My friends and I have shared a ridiculous amount of laughs,” she said. “No matter what we do during practice, we have fun. The best memory so far was my class trip to Greece this summer.”
Besides field hockey and lacrosse, Tucker’s creative outlet is devoted to the visual arts with a special emphasis on photography. She is also fond of drawing and painting and is tackling an Advanced Placement course this year to further her skills.
Finally, it may be during her free time or it may be when she’s busy, but one of Tucker’s favorite pastimes is listening to tunes on Spotify.
No wonder the sound of the ball banging the goal is music to her ears.