First-year Ella Stephenson and senior Abbie Brown are redefining team chemistry for the Lehigh field hockey team.
Coming from the same high school, Kingsway Regional in Mickleton, New Jersey, their unique bond has become a driving force for the Mountain Hawks.
In Lehigh’s win over Sacred Heart on Sept. 10, their connection was evident as Stephenson had her first collegiate assist, setting up Brown’s game-winning goal.
“It was such a meaningful moment. I feel like we realized it right after it happened,” Brown said. “We hugged after and said ‘Kingsway goal, Kingsway connection.’”
This was not the first time Brown and Stephenson have played together. Stephenson was an incoming first-year when she joined Brown, a senior at the time, on the varsity team at Kingsway.
After the game, Brown said Stephenson’s mom came up to her with tears in her eyes. It was a special moment to her because she has known Stephenson so long.
“I have seen her grow into the great player and person she is today,” Brown said.
Stephenson began playing field hockey in the fifth grade. She said she had always played softball and never had anything to do in the fall offseason, which was one of the reasons she picked up field hockey.
She said she also had a mentor in one of her writing classes who played field hockey and encouraged her to give it a try.
Once Brown found out Stephenson was interested in Lehigh, Brown ensured she would be there for her every step of the way.
“When I visited Lehigh, she was able to show me around, and it made me feel much more comfortable when I was going through the recruiting process,” Stephenson said. “She always talked very highly of Lehigh, and it was already something I was interested in, so it was really nice knowing someone with such positive things to say about Lehigh.”
Brown said her family also helped with Stephenson’s recruiting process and would answer any questions she and her family had.
For Stephenson, Brown is not just a teammate but a role model. She said Brown is someone she can always count on if she needs advice or help.
“On the field, (Brown) is someone who always pushes me to be my best,” Stephenson said. “Off the field, she’s always a super nice person to be with and is always offering to spend time with the underclassmen to try and get to know us more.”
In return, Brown said she greatly admires Stephenson, especially after seeing her grow for the past five years.
“(Stephenson) is such a humble, hardworking player and has such a great work ethic,” Brown said. “I have so much respect for her as a person and a player.”
As Brown finishes up her final year at Lehigh, she is thankful for the relationships she has made on the team and said her teammates have become some of her best friends.
She said she hopes to continue the momentum from the team’s 2022 championship campaign into her last year as a Mountain Hawk.
“In your last year the days are counting down, so you just want to cherish every practice and game until the end,” Brown said.
Brown, a biology major, intends on taking a gap year after graduation and working in a clinical setting, while also applying to medical school. She attributes wanting to go into medicine to her involvement in competitive sports from such a young age.
She said she is always seeking leadership and volunteering opportunities through athletics and has always paid close attention to her health and how it affects her performance on the field.
Living just five minutes away from each other back home in New Jersey, Brown and Stephenson recognize how lucky they are to have each other.
“It’s really nice to have a piece of home here too,” Stephenson said.
Both Brown and Stephenson said they are looking forward to the beginning and end of their field hockey careers with a sense of anticipation and nostalgia, cherishing every moment as they continue to inspire each other.