Late Bloomers- Athletes Who Took up Sports Freshman Year

Unstoppable.
That one word seems to sum up Jessie Ambrose ’12, varsity girls lacrosse player, Joosje Grevers ’12 of varsity girls volleyball, Turner Block ’13, varsity track and field runner , Pieter Hoets ’13, varsity football defensive end, and Jeremy Sherman ’13, varsity wrestling star. It may come as a shock to many that the talent of these athletes was only realized two or three years ago.
It is often the case that star athletes leap out of the crib practicing whatever sport they are destined to be great at. But there are always exceptions.
Natural Athletes describes these students. Before they discovered their hidden talents, almost all of them were involved in other sports. While lacrosse was in its off-season, Ambrose played both basketball, which she eventually quit her junior year, and soccer. She is a key asset to the team, consistently preventing the opponent from scoring on her in goal. Ambrose is well deserving of her position as captain of the girls varsity soccer team.
Ambrose is not the only one who has shown natural athleticism. Grevers has actively participated in numerous sports before she found her home on the volleyball court. Swimming, soccer, and water polo definitely kept her occupied. Quickly gliding through the water, Grevers made herself known around the pool. In younger years, Grevers placed 10th out of almost 60 swimmers at the Connecticut West Regionals. Talk about some speedy kicking.
There appears to be a pattern of these athletic powerhouses having played other sports in the past and present. So, it makes sense that Block doesn’t only sprint around the track. Soccer is her second sport. Just because soccer is mentioned second, does not mean Block treats it second best. This is clear through her dedicated playing three consecutive years on the varsity team. Block has been a key asset on the offensive line, controlling the scoreboard with her abundant goals.
Following the pattern of the others, Hoets also has played lacrosse, ice hockey, and even swimming for a year. He was an important part to all of those teams and his absence is greatly missed. But, the football team needs him out there.
After having been involved in so many other sports it was a challenge deciding whether their busy schedules could handle another sport. It was no challenge for Ambrose, though. “I was so used to playing a sport that I got bored not having things to do after school,” Ambrose said. And the pull from friends to join lacrosse also gave her the extra push she needed.
Grevers was originally attracted to the appearance of volleyball as a whole. “I thought that it looked like such a fun sport and also I was really tall for my age, so I thought it would be cool to use my height for my own benefit,” Grevers stated. This height advantage became a key aspect to her natural ability on the court.
Influence from family members was a major reason for Block to first discover her talent on the track. Block said, “Watching how much my brother loved doing track in high school and the stories he would tell about it made me want to do track.” Her father also encouraged it because he knew Block had a real talent for running.
For Hoets, it all began with a couple of friends suggesting the idea of joining the football team. Also, the idea of discovering his hidden talents intrigued him. Hoets eventually took their advice and went for it.
Training regularly is important in playing any sport. These athletes had to train especially hard in order to get up to speed. For Ambrose this meant hours on end just throwing the ball against a wall and catching it, over and over again. It may sound repetitive but it led the way to great success. Stick skills were improved from this simple drill. Ambrose even said, “The more and more I play, the more confident I become in my stick skills and playing the rest of the game as a whole.”
Grevers knew success lay in the fundamentals. These basic skills had to be mastered before the more challenging ones would even be available to her. Practicing a lot of repetition of good skills was important to give them muscle memory. Once, muscle memory was accomplished Grevers’s skills escalated.
“Soccer requires long hours spent running back and forth back and forth,” Block notes. So, she was excellently prepared when the track and field season first came around. For her she didn’t need to do any specialized training. The week or two before the actual competitions started was enough for her.
The football off-season is no joke; even Hoets admits that. “It took a lot of training to get to where I am now, pretty much long hours every day in the weight room and running on the field,” said Hoets. His regular training required long hours every day of the week. But, he was willing to do it because victory was so close he could touch it (when the weights were finally put down).
Ambrose, Grevers, Block, and Hoets all knew success lay in mastering the basic elements of the sports. However, the most important part to becoming the star athletes they are today was hard work. Each of these students had to put in long hours day after day. Ambrose said, “Even though my stick skills weren’t as good as some of the other girls, I hoped that my hard work would make up for that.” Ambrose sums it up for all of these athletes, noting that although originally behind, hard work pulled them up to speed.
By placing at FCIAC’s and State Invitational’s, being recruited to top colleges, and repeatedly appearing in newspapers, Ambrose, Grevers, Block and Hoets have accomplished these things after having only started as freshman or sophomores.