This year’s Preseason National High School Player of the Year is Meredith Sholder from Emmaus High School in Pennsylvania. The senior UNC commit is coming off a 63 goal, 40 assist 1st Team All-American junior campaign where she led her Emmaus team to a Pennsylvania AAA State Championship title, arguably the toughest championship in the country to win.
We caught up with Sholder to see how she’s handling the pressure of being named the top player in the country heading in the the season, being the favorite to repeat with a second straight AAA state title, and to learn more about her dominant Emmaus program.
You are the reigning PA/NJ Region Player of the Year, Conference MVP, and now MAX Field Hockey’s Preseason National Player of the Year—and your Emmaus team is the top ranked team in PA as the favorite to defend your AAA State Title. Those are some really high expectations. Do you like having those expectations put on you? Are you feeling any pressure heading into the season because of those expectations?
Sholder: “I do like having these expectations put on me, because it motivates me to try as hard as I can and go all out every single game. It motivates me to work harder at practices too and not to slack off, because obviously it’ll have a positive outcome in the games. Yes, having this type of spotlight on me does bring a significant amount of pressure going into the season this year. It makes me afraid to mess up, actually. But, I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to mess up and it’s okay if I don’t have a perfect game, as long as I try my best and do everything I can in every game.
Together as a team, I don’t think we feel pressure that much. We know we have a target on our backs going into this season and we know everyone is going to try their absolute best to knock us down, but that just makes us work harder. Our coach always reminds us that we just have to stay humble and take one game at a time.”
Emmaus is one of the great traditions in High School Field Hockey. What does it mean to you to be a part of the program?
Sholder: “I’m so grateful to be apart of the Emmaus field hockey program. Every time I step onto the field, I know I’m going to be challenged. I have an amazing coach. Coach Sue Butz Stavin made me into the player I am today, and I can’t thank her enough for that. Not only that, but the team I’m on is definitely something special. Everyone on the team is super close and that’s why we connect so well on the field. They’re my best friends and we always support each other through everything. I wouldn’t want to be on any other high school team. Also, the tradition of Emmaus field hockey goes a long way in my family. My aunt, Lisa Grim, my mom, Jane Grim, and my cousin, Sammy Wootsick, all played on the team for Sue Butz, so you could definitely say it’s a great tradition in my family.”
What do you think makes the program so successful year after year?
Sholder: “Every practice we have is tough. We practice 6 out of 7 days a week all through summer, and all through season until it’s over. When school lets out in June, the seniors run early morning practices until preseason when Coach Butz Stavin takes over. The drills Coach has us do are specifically for the areas that we need work on. Also, every year that I’ve been on the team, the senior class stepped up tremendously, and they lead the team very well. I think the leadership and the support our team has helps us be successful.”
What are you looking forward to most this year?
Sholder: “Well, now it’s my senior year. It’d be amazing to win another state title before I go off to college. But, I’m just looking forward to taking the journey this year with my team.”
What are your personal goals for the season?
Sholder: “I’m hoping to capitalize in the attacking circle as much as I did the past three years, whether I come up with a goal, an assist, or a corner. I also want to work on recovering to help out more defensively as well. It’s going to be a real challenge this year, with such talented teams that Emmaus will have to encounter. I’m excited to experience my senior year season with such special teammates and coaching staff.”
9/16 Update: Sholder’s Emmaus team is off to a 5-0 start and she has already tallied 12 goals and 9 assists.