Ohio State senior forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey never intended to play field hockey. But she decided to give it a shot in seventh grade since her best friend’s family was greatly involved in the sport.
Humphrey, now one of the most decorated players to come through the Buckeyes’ field hockey program, had participated in other sports, including soccer. But the thought of playing field hockey had never entered Humphrey’s mind. The moment she picked up her stick, though, everything changed.
“I just really enjoyed field hockey when I first started,” Humphrey said. “I continued through high school and played travel ball, and that’s what got me here.”
Of all the sports the Virginia native played, soccer best prepared her for her career in field hockey — perhaps a little too well.
“Playing soccer is the first and foremost thing that got me ahead of the people I was playing with,” Humphrey said. “It’s such a similar game. When I started field hockey, I didn’t have to learn about the game because it’s so similar to the way soccer is played. I just had to learn how to play with my stick and not my feet.”
When she stepped on campus in 2014, it was clear Humphrey could be a star for the Ohio State coaching staff. Humphrey was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times and led the Buckeyes with 32 points (12 goals, eight assists) her freshman season.
It was a clear sign of things to come for Humphrey, who said she has tried to involve her teammates in the offense.
“Throughout the years, I’ve tried to bring people with me instead of just me being the attacking force,” Humphrey said. “When I get all my teammates on board, it excels my skills even more because I have all that support behind me.”
With much of her final season left to go, Humphrey has already compiled many accolades.
She’s been named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s second team All-West Region (2014), first team All-West Region (2016), and the second team All-Big Ten (2015, 2016).
While those honors are nice, being selected three times to USA Field Hockey’s Young Women’s National Championship, the most exclusive tournament in the United States for high-level field hockey athletes, will always stand out in Humphrey’s mind.
“Getting the elite training was big,” Humphrey said. “That pool of girls are the most skilled and competitive in the country. Having that experience, learning from each other, learning from coaches, it’s all really shaped the way I play. Learning from all the different coaches and having such great diversity all come together at this one elite event really broadens all those athletes’ skill levels.”
This year, Humphrey has continued her trend of leading the team offensively.
Humphrey leads Ohio State in goals, points and shot percentage. At times, she’s been the lone source of offense, which was the case when her two-goal effort wasn’t enough in a 3-2 overtime loss to Northwestern Friday.
Jarred Martin might’ve just been named head coach at the end of the 2016 season, but he understands how much Humphrey has meant to Ohio State field hockey.
“Maddy is an elite player,” Martin said. “She will go down as one of the best OSU field hockey players to ever put a jersey on. What she does on the field, what she does at practice — he intensity and speed she plays with, it’s special. When she gets on the field, she’s a game-changer.”
Although Ohio State has yet to finish with more wins than losses in a season since she arrived, it has not been the result of a lack of effort from Humphrey through the past three seasons. There’s been no shortage of effort left on Buckeye Varsity Field.
Sitting with a 4-3 record with four games remaining before the Buckeye Invitational, Humphrey hopes that when her days at Ohio State are over, she is remembered as someone who was there for her teammates rather than just a great player.
“I would say an elite team player because I want to set that standard for my teammates to rise with me,” Humphrey said. “Being an elite person and a team player is the best way to be an athlete on the field because you bring everyone into the same goal. That’s what I want to be remembered as, just someone who was there for their teammates and tried to bring them up to be elite.”