Monroe’s Viola relishes team accomplishments


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By Jimmy Allinder

Abigail Viola, the leading scorer for the Monroe Township High School field hockey team last year, has never thought much about her own personal achievements.

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Instead, the junior has been motivated by how she can help her team win.

Take, for instance, the 2015 season when Monroe captured the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament championship and finished 17-3-1. Viola was a sophomore on one the best teams in school history, but what she recalls most was her nine goals were vital to the Falcons’ winning season.

“Winning that championship was honestly the most amazing feeling I ever experienced,” Viola said. “The best part was I scored a goal in a game that really mattered. We developed into a family that year, and we still are.”

That’s Viola handing out plaudits to everybody but herself like she always does, with special appreciation for her coach, Sarah Cummings. She said Cummings pushed the entire team to limits she never imagined possible.

“The whole season was a lesson in everybody giving everything they had, and then some,” Viola said.

Last season, Viola matched her goal total in 2015 but was the leading scorer for a team that finished 9-8-2 due to major graduation losses. She played center forward, a position that enabled her to frequently handle the ball in prime scoring position.

“On attack, I’m always looking ahead for open teammates or taking a good shot,” she said. “I try to take advantage of my speed.”

Viola believes her role on defense is just as important. Rarely is she caught out of position when opponents attack.

Field hockey is her primary sport, but Viola played softball as a freshman and sophomore and is still on a travel team. When she’s done with field hockey, she intends to transition next spring to a sport where speed is just as important: lacrosse.

Viola has been able to achieve good grades even while being active in sports year-round.

“I have a 92 average and was elected to our school’s National Honor Society,” she said. “That’s only been possible by strategically planning my daily schedule and making sure I complete assignments on game days, especially when we’re away. Actually, getting schoolwork done on time helps me feel less stressed and better focused on the game.”

Her favorite teacher is athletic trainer Nate Cogdill. Besides his regular responsibilities, Cogdill teaches a class on care and prevention of athletic injuries.

“He is such an effective teacher who makes class fun and exciting,” said Viola, who volunteers her free periods to work with Cogdill. “He really knows his profession, and I’ve learned a lot.”

Viola has such an appreciation for what she’s learned, her plans are to major in athletic training and physical education at a college likely on the East Coast. In addition to travel softball and playing indoor field hockey in the winter, she is a member of the school Key Club and is part of a youth group at Nativity of Our Lord Church.

The most important people in Viola’s life are her parents, Patrick and Karen. She also has two brothers, Adam and Andrew.

“My father has had the most impact on my athletic career,” she said. “He inspired me to work hard and find a love for whatever sport I played because that’s what has driven me to succeed. My mom pushed me to succeed academically. I learned from her how important good grades are, and I understand that now that I’m making a college decision.”

In the fall, Viola is likely to be among the leading scorers — if not top gun — for her field hockey team. It’s a role she accepts but won’t be what motivates her.

“I truly believe field hockey is a team sport,” she said. “I know I have to rely on my teammates if we’re going to push through the challenges.”

Spoken like a true team player.

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