The junior center back and captain of the District 1 champion Villa Maria field hockey squad is, in the words of Hurricanes’ head coach Daan Polders, “our organizer on the field and our driving force in the backfield and midfield. Mary’s way of playing makes other players more successful without getting stats that put her in the spotlight. Mary is involved in basically everything on the field.” The Duke University commit is a two-time All-AACA selection, received All-Main Line honors last fall and is a member of the U17 National Team.
Q: What was your first reaction at the district championship game Nov. 4 when the buzzer sounded and Villa Maria was officially the district champion? Was there one play from the district final that stands out in your memory, and if so, can you describe how the play developed and your role in it?
A: I was so happy that we had finally won after losing in the district semifinal last year. There was one play where I passed to Adele Iacobucci off a 16 yard hit and she passed it up the field to [forward] Erin Finley and we eventually got a goal after a series of really great passes. Seeing it from farther back is really cool because you get to witness everything build up.
Q: Can you briefly describe your responsibilities as the team’s on-field organizer at center back?
A: When you’re playing the back of the midfield it is really easy to see the whole field and let people know where the open pass is. I try to help my teammates so they know where the open girl is. We also try to transfer the ball from side to side a lot so having communication from the back field is really important.
Q: How do you feel you can best exercise your leadership role as a team captain? Can you give an example of when you felt it necessary to exercise that leadership (on field and/or off the field)?
A: I think it’s most important to show leadership in practice when everyone is learning. Practice is the place to make mistakes so encouraging people to try new things is really important. That is something that my team and I try promote in practice and we’ve been doing a great job at helping each other out.
Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game? What part of your game are you working the most on at the present time?
A: I think that the strongest part of my game is passing and reading the field. My teammates are very good at moving into the lines that I see, and that is something that makes us successful. Right now, I am working most on my individual defense.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: Most of our games happen to be on school days, but lately we’ve been having some Saturday games too. On those, we often try to meet for breakfast or lunch early and then rest before we have to meet for the bus. Getting to the bus always starts with a dance session in the parking lot that continues onto the bus with our famous neon lights speaker.
Q: What originally sparked your interest in field hockey?
A: My mom actually helped coach the 8th grade team from my grade school when I was really little so I used to always watch the older girls and really enjoyed it.
Q: Last fall, Villa Maria made it to state semifinals. What was your favorite moment from last season – can you share your memory of it with us?
A: My favorite moment of last year the first round of States. We came out so strong and it was our best game of the season. Seeing everyone push themselves and each other to their best is really great to watch and be a part of.
Q: Who have been your top field hockey mentors, and what has been the most important thing each of them taught you?
A: The people at the top for field hockey mentors for me are my coaches at WC Eagles that have been helping me since I was 7 and also Daan [Polders], who has really taught me a lot of things in my high school career that I will remember forever. My club coaches have taught me the skills you need to play good field hockey. Daan taught me to read the field and see all different kinds of things that go on during the game.
Q: What was your most memorable experience with the U 17 National team – can you share your memory of it with us?
A: My most memorable moment with the u17 national team was the fun I had traveling to different places with my friends, especially [Villa Maria teammates] Hannah Miller and Adele Iacobucci. It’s really nice having your closest friends when you go through new experiences like we did.
Q: What do you think you would like to major in at Duke? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: I change my mind a lot about this question, but lately I’ve been interested in economics and how it works, so maybe something in that area.
Q: Do you participate in any extracurricular activities at Villa Maria outside of field hockey? What sparked your interest in these activities?
A: I run track in the spring for Villa Maria. It’s nice to not just have field hockey 24/7 and to see a change in what you’re doing.
Fun facts – Mary Harkins
Favorite book: The Outsiders.
Favorite author: S.E. Hinton.
Favorite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy.
Favorite movie: Interstellar.
Favorite athlete: Carson Wentz.
Favorite team: Villa Maria field hockey team.
Favorite place to visit: “The beach.”
Favorite pre-game meal: smoothie.
Favorite color: pink.
Person I most admire, and why: “My mommom cause I’ve never seen her be anything but kind to anyone.”
Family members: parents Gus and Helen, brother Joey.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)