Donaruma has helped her team find the net this season
Star players on sports teams can go a long way in getting a team deep into the playoffs. That star player is exactly who Aimee Donaruma is for the Keene State College Field Hockey team. Fortunately enough, Donaruma has a team by her side that will not only take her into the playoffs, but what some think will win them the Little East Conference title this season.
[singlepic id=1474 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Donaruma, 20, of Hampden, Mass., is a junior midfielder for the KSC Field Hockey team and as a three starter, as well as a captain, has taken a leadership role on and off the field. It’s a role that the team as a whole has come to respect out of their captain.
Leading the team in assists this season (16), Donaruma is a skilled player who has the tools to be put anywhere on the field for the Owls. Most recently, in a game versus LEC rival Westfield State, Donaruma tied the school record for assist in one game with four assists.
“I had no idea that I even actually got the record when I was playing,” Donaruma said. “It’s a really nice honor.”
Donaruma was quick to compliment her team for her success, maintaining a humble confidence in her team. She said her team plays better in response to one another’s success with even better play.
“I think it gets everyone pumped up when people accomplish things,” Donaruma said. “We all get excited for each other and we play even better when we know people are doing well.”
Rooming with two sisters is an interesting venture for any college athlete. But rooming with two twins who are on your actual college field hockey team is something that not only helps players get along as a team off the field but also helps grow team chemistry for in-game situations.
Donaruma shares a house with both Kalin and Alex Billert, two major contributors on the team for the Owls this season. Both seniors, the two sisters are in the middle of the end of their last run with Donaruma as a teammate going into the 2012 playoffs.
Kalin Billert leads the team in goals scored as well as points scored with a total of 47 points for. Her sister Alex Billert is also at the top of the leaderboards with 27 points for. Both attribute Donaruma for much of their success on the field this season.
“I think we definitely work together on the field as a whole,” Alex said. “She’s our center mid and is our best offense and defensive player on the field together. When we’re on the field we’re always looking towards her because she’s so good at setting up plays and knows how the field works.”
There’s a reason all three are so dynamic on the field together and it’s not just the fact that they live together. Donaruma leads the two twins to the field early before practice and all three work together on what skills they need to improve.
It’s easy to say that with all three players being around one another so much that it’s almost as if they act as a three-headed monster on the field when it comes down to game time.
“We go to the field a lot before practice and work on a lot of different things,” Kalin said.
“The three of us are just very supportive each other and just make each other better.”
Kalin said Donaruma is just as good of a coach to her as she is a player.
“We talk about everything about the game,” Kalin said.
“She’s always helped me if I have a question on how to do better. She has more experience than I do in field hockey.”
Head Coach Amy Watson said Donaruma is a player she can put anywhere on the field at any given time since her freshman year.
“She’s been a strong player since her freshman year,” Watson said.
“She’s come in and been an impact player. We’ve pretty much move her wherever we need her to be. If we need her in the defensive end we put her there. If we need strength in the midfield we put her there. She’s a good distributor and she makes things happen.”
Although Donaruma is the only junior captain on the team, Watson said the team as a whole is made of leaders.
“She’s doing a nice job as a captain,” Watson said.
“We have traditionally always have had one captain but we usually have a lot of leaders. [Donaruma’s] our captain and she kind of just coordinates the leadership on the team so hopefully other kids can step up.”
As playoffs approach in Donaruma’s first season as a captain, she said that the young KSC team has developed into a force and that if they can come together in the postseason, who knows what the team could accomplish as a whole.
“We’ve done very well and we’ve come a long way from the beginning of the season because the majority of the players out there are new because we lost so many seniors,” Donaruma said.
“It’s been just getting better and better every game and everyone’s getting excited for the post season.”
Leading a group of individuals into the playoffs is never an easy task for a first year captain. Donaruma said that she hopes she can distribute the ball to her team the way she has all season.
Dalton Charest can be contacted