By KEN SCHOTT
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Jenn Hanks has been playing field hockey since she was 4 years old. She has loved every minute of it.
The Niskayuna High School graduate has made the most of playing the sport she is devoted to. Hanks was a two-time Section II first-team all-star playing for the Silver Warriors. She has had a successful career as a defenseman for Skidmore College, helping the Thoroughbreds win their second straight Liberty League title Nov. 8 when they defeated William Smith, 3-0. It was Skidmore’s sixth league championship in seven years.
Skidmore earned a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. The Thoroughbreds received a first-round bye, and will host a second-round game Nov. 15.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Hanks, who is a junior at Skidmore. “I’ve really enjoyed being able to play with a group of individuals that really have the same passion for the sport as I do. Before going into college, you have to really go out of your box to find that by playing club field hockey, especially. That’s where you find your love for the sport. I was very fortunate to find a college team that all of the members are as enthusiastic and excited to play the sport.
“I’ve been very lucky over the three years to have team members who are very excited throughout the entire season. This year, we’re still going. We’re as enthusiastic [now] as we were in August.”
Hanks’ love of field hockey started with her mother, who played at Lehigh University. Her younger sister Carrie is a freshman on the University of Maryland team.
“It probably started when I was in seventh grade,” Hanks said. “I really enjoyed it because my mom played it in college, and she kind of wanted me to get into the sport. My younger sister . . . we had just grown up with the sport of field hockey. We love to watch clips on YouTube, we love to play around, we love to work out, we just love to become better. I think the both of us just have this fire within us, and we wanted to be better players and better athletes. That’s definitely where I feed off of my sister’s energy a lot.”
Hanks was an All-Liberty League honorable mention in 2012. Last year, she made the first team All-Liberty League, as a two-time winner of the league’s defensive player of the week award and was a Longstreth/NFHCA North Atlantic second team all-star. This season, Hanks was named the league’s defensive player of the week once.
Even though she plays defense, Hanks is an offensive threat. She has seven goals and five assists for 19 points in 20 games this season. (A player is credited with two points for a goal.)
In 61 career games, Hanks has 15 goals and 10 assists for 40 points.
“She definitely helps us transition to the offense,” Skidmore coach Beth Hallenbeck said. “She’s a very steady defender, but her ability to throw the ball in the air is game-changing.”
Hanks is used a lot when the Thoroughbreds are awarded a penalty corner. “She’s got a great strike,” Hallenbeck said. “She hits the ball hard. She’s definitely a threat on the offense. Even though she’s a defender, she makes an impact for us.”