Sometimes you don’t miss something until it’s gone.
When a leg injury forced Jade Hall to miss all but the final three games of Ewing High’s field hockey season last year, she realized how much the sport meant to her. The senior forward has come back with “an edge” this year as she works to channel her passion and enthusiasm into a winning conclusion to her scholastic career.
“Last year was very disappointing,” said Hall, who scored seven goals as a sophomore and was a second team all-conference selection. “I had a really good sophomore year, so I was expecting to come back and destroy. I was so excited for the season. I thought it was going to be a very good year.”
Hall said she appreciates the game even more now because she missing out on it.
“I didn’t know I would miss it that much,” she said. “Growing up, track was always my No. 1 sport. But missing the season, it made me realize my love for the game. I think it gave me an edge coming back because I had so much anticipation for this season.”
Hall, who is also a sprinter on Ewing’s track team, didn’t spend last season sulking at home or wallowing in self-pity over her misfortune. She attended every practice, every game and became a valuable voice on the sidelines.
“She was great about it,” Blue Devils coach Leslie Conant said. “She knew she couldn’t do that one role, as a player, so she decided to make another role, her own role. She would talk in the huddles, or at halftime or at the end of the game.
“She’s just very encouraging. When someone needs to be told something, she tells them, but it’s never in a negative way. The girls respond to that as well. She’s always positive and constructive. The girls look up to her.”
Hall used her time with the coaches to see the game in a new way.
“I think I saw more of the coaches’ perspective while sitting out,” Hall said. “There are things you are told, but don’t always see, while you’re playing. I think it was important to stay positive. It was a better experience looking at it in a positive way.
“Being a leader is on and off the field. I think it’s important to always be the best person you can be because people are always looking at you, even if you don’t always know they’re around.”
Hall returned to action in late October last year, scoring two goals in a 3-1 win over Hun. Ewing then upset Point Pleasant Boro in the first round of the state sectional playoffs before falling to Rumson-Fair Haven in the quarterfinals.
“I was really ready,” Hall said. “I couldn’t wait to be back to the team and making a difference on the team. (The first goal) was kind of surreal. I kind of forgot how it felt to be a part of the win, help score.”
Conant was thrilled to see Hall back on the field for the conclusion of last season.
“When she came back, it was like a burst of sunshine came through,” the coach said. “Her being there, for everything she went through, I was so happy she was able to get that experience and end her junior season on a good note.
“I’m hoping she has the best season ever. After everything she went through last season, she deserves it. She’s that kid that definitely deserves it.”
Ewing opened this season with three tough losses against top area teams, but Hall scored three goals to lift the Blue Devils to their first victory, 3-1 over Nottingham on Sept. 19 and followed it up with another win, 2-0, against Steinert on Sept. 21.
“She never stops, she never gives up,” Conant said about Hall’s determination. “She’s fast. She could be up and down the field 20 times and all of a sudden a ball will pop out and she takes off. It’s like a gear that I would never think was possible. She just brings it every single time; she digs down and gives it everything she’s got.
“She just does it because she loves it, and she loves her team and she loves the sport. She gets her goals and starts the offensive surge to goal, but she’s always the first one to say she couldn’t do it without her teammates. She’s always about the team, every single day. It’s very endearing and you love her even more because she gets it.
“She’s like an old-school athlete that’s playing in 2016. She’s a great leader. I couldn’t be happier to be her coach. She pushes me as much as I hope I push her.”
Hall entered this season hopeful Ewing would have a memorable campaign. Jaycee Lowe is back after scoring a team-high six goals as a freshman and there is plenty of veteran talent with the returns of players such as Natalia Rodriguez, Alexis Pope, Kaydeanne Francis, Raquel Sparano and Jewelya Tramontana. Kendall Bartkowski is the team’s new goalie.
“We’re really excited for what’s in store,” Hall said. “We definitely have tough competition, but I think we’ll catch a lot of teams off guard because I think we’re better than last year. We’ve been working on our weakness, trying to expand everyone’s game. We want to strengthen every part of our game.
“I love my coaches and my teammates,” she added. “They made me love the game. They’ve been a big part of my high school career and I really appreciate them.”