DURHAM, N.C. – Duke field hockey head coach Pam Bustin and the Blue Devil staff welcomed the addition of seven incoming players to the program for the 2014 campaign. Midfielder Stephanie Pezzuti comes to Duke from Fairfield, N.J.
Midfield l Fairfield, N.J. l West Essex
Prior to Duke: Pezzuti comes to Duke from West Essex High School in North Caldwell, N.J., where she enjoyed a standout prep career. As a senior, she recorded 19 goals and 30 assists en route to being named the Essex County Player of the Year and was also a first team All-America and all-state selection. A two-time national all-region honoree and a three-time all-conference, all-county and all-group player, Pezzuti twice led her team to the New Jersey Group II state title, scoring the game-winning goal in the final as a senior in 2013.
"I am proud to welcome Steph Pezzuti to the Duke field hockey program. Steph's hard core competitiveness and consistent work rate will challenge our program to be better. She is reliable on and off the field and is ready to get to work with the Blue Devils. Her natural athleticism and laser focus will make her a tough player to beat and a great player to coach!"
What is your favorite field hockey memory?
SP: Winning the 2013 state championship! I will never forget the last couple seconds of the game. I remember the feeling of such a great accomplishment, of being on the field with my teammates and remembering that as a team we set a goal on the first day of the season to win a state championship. I will never forget running to each other and hugging and then hugging the coaches.
When did you start playing field hockey?
SP: Growing up I played soccer. When I was in eighth grade I tried out for the middle school soccer team and was cut from the team. I walked over to the next field where some of my friends were practicing field hockey and I asked if I could try out. The field hockey coach explained there were no cuts and I could come back the next day to participate in a practice and see if I liked to play field hockey. That night my dad and I went to the store to buy a stick. We told the salesman I was left-handed and needed a “lefty” stick and he explained there was no such thing as a right-handed or left-handed stick in field hockey and maybe I should stick to soccer. The next day I went to practice and joined the field hockey team. The following year as a freshman I tried out for the varsity team and made it! I ended up playing all four years on varsity and signed my letter of intent to play Div. I Duke field hockey. Good thing we didn’t listen to that salesman!
Why did you choose Duke?
SP: I have dreamed of playing field hockey at the Div. I level on a “big school” team yet wanted to attend a “small school” university with close knit community. Duke seemed like the perfect fit. I was worried about being so far away from home but when I visited Duke everyone was so welcoming and warm. I fell in love with the campus, the people and the school. I knew Duke was the place for me.
What are your goals for your collegiate career?
SP: I watched the Blue Devils compete in the 2013 national championship playoffs and championship game. It was surreal knowing that next year I would be joining that team. My main goal is to be able to contribute as a player on the Duke field hockey team in 2014-2018. I want to improve individually and help the Blue Devils reach a national championship.
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
SP: My parents and my grandpa have had the biggest impact on my life. My parents have supported me through all of my sports, schooling and recruiting process. I am an only child, and because of that they are my parents, siblings and best friends. They have encouraged me to set my goals extremely high and made every effort to help me achieve those goals. My grandpa has not missed a game since my t-ball days. His dedication to being my biggest fan gives me the motivation to be the best player I can be. It may not seem like much but every game he has made me the perfect mixture of Gatorade and ice cubes. No matter how nervous I am for a game, whether it is big or small, seeing him walking over to the bench with the Gatorade always helps me to relax and smile.
Hobbies: Watching Netflix; spending time at the beach and swimming in the ocean; boating, water skiing, wave running, tubing
Favorite movie: The Blind Side
Favorite TV show: One Tree Hill
Favorite book: Sarah’s Key
Favorite musician: Luke Bryan
Pre-game ritual/superstition: The night before every game my mom would lay my clean clothes and uniform on the dining room table. In the morning I would pick out my lucky socks and headband and pack up my sports bag. Since my sophomore year, before every game I have written the letters “CC” on my wrist. I write those two letters “CC” (the initials of my aunt) to give me motivation. She has always been an inspiration to me especially in my junior and senior year when she went through a below the knee leg amputation. She very courageously recovered and completed rehabilitation and now comes to my games on her prosthetic leg.
If you were to play another sport, what would it be? Basketball
Hidden talent: I am not a very good singer, but I do love to lip sync.
Best advice you’ve received: My mom always told me “You can choose to be happy or choose to be sad, choose happy.” This always stuck with me because no matter what is going on or what you’re going through, it’s always better to be happy. You have to choose your own attitude and have a good attitude and with that will come success.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? That’s a very tough question. I would love to be doing so many things in 10 years. I don’t feel I will ever be able to give up field hockey and hope that after college I will still be involved in the game in some aspect. I hope to travel upon graduation. I want to experience different cultures and would love to travel abroad.
To be a part of the Duke field hockey program is … a dream come true. It is beyond exciting. I never thought in a million years I would be saying, “I’m going to Duke to play field hockey”. I think it is so cool to be part of such a well-known program and big-name school. I am so excited about all the opportunities and possibilities, there is just so much to look forward to.