By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After losing so many experienced players, the next era of Nittany Lions are stepping up to continue the program's winning ways. Stephanie Hussey is doing that, whether she wants to admit it or not.
Hussey has always been one of the younger players since her youth playing on various teams in Florida. Her high school, Ronal Reagan High School, did not even have a field hockey program. She had to find other ways to hone her skills.
Between eating empanadas, watching basketball and soccer and sailing, Hussey played for many travel field hockey teams, including the Surf Miami Field Hockey Club and the Miami Field Hockey Flamingos.
Current assistant coach Stuart Smith coached Hussey on one of her teams in Florida. Even more ironically, coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss led the U-19 team Hussey played on, a team she suited up for when she was only seventeen years old.
The National team Hussey played for traveled to her home country, Argentina, where many family members and friends were able to see her play.
"Playing for the U-19 Team was a dream come true," said Hussey.
After her decorated pre-college career, Hussey decided to take the next step and play her college field hockey at Syracuse University, but after two years she decided she wouldn't continue her career wearing Orange.
"There's a fit for everyone and sometimes it just doesn't fit for you...when it feels right, it feels right," said the senior.
Coach Morett-Curtiss didn't even have to recruit the talented forward/midfielder to her program. Because of the former relationships with the head coach and Stuart Smith, it was an easy call for Hussey to move to Happy Valley.
'"I knew the people I needed to work with," said Hussey.
It certainly was the right decision. She has enjoyed a Big Ten tournament championship and has been a goal scoring machine, notching two already this early in the campaign.
Hussey has always been one of the younger players on all her stops on different teams because of her talent even saying this is one of the weird times she is actually one of the oldest on a team.
With her age and experience, it would only be natural that she would be a captain on a team that starts four freshmen.
Before the games, she always has something to say to the team to get them ready for play.
"I'll say before the game after we finish pregame warmups and stretching and grab our sticks with about 13 minutes left before the game, that's when I get [the team] together and tell them to just focus on their skills," said Hussey who needs to set an example for all the younger players on the team.
"I think she and Haley [Kerstetter] do an equal job [leading], I'd like to see Hussey play with a little more confidence because she has high quality skills, but I think sometimes she overthinks the game. You just want to just go out and enjoy the game, because she does have that passion and is doing an incredible job," said coach Morett-Curtiss.
The media certainly has a lot to do with the team's motivation this year.
"One of the things I told the team before the UVA game was there's a ton of articles [about] what we used to be, but there's not a ton of articles about us now. They're all about the players we lost so we need to make them write articles about who we are now," Hussey said after Thursday's practice.
Hussey will be trying to join former teammate Amanda Dinunzio in a quest to play for the U.S. National Team, and there is one x-factor that could help her not only lead this year's Penn State team but land her on the U.S. Team - her ankle bracelet.
"I wear a little bracelet on my right ankle since I was four years old; I haven't missed a game without it," said Hussey.
Maybe it will be the ankle bracelet that leads the Blue and White to the promised land this season.