Phoebe Elias was in sixth grade when she found a new passion.
Her class was assigned to bring in a dessert for a Halloween party, and Elias wanted to make chocolate cupcakes.
“I didn’t want to use the box mix,” Elias said. “I thought that was cheating. I went above and beyond and looked for other recipes from scratch. I made them look like pumpkins. My friends thought they tasted great.”
Elias continues to cook as a hobby six years later while juggling being a leader for the West Windsor-Plainsboro High South field hockey team, director of props for the school musical, a peer leader for freshmen, president of the Princeton Area Juniorettes, and working part-time as a server at Cranbury Pizza.
“I still have some free time,” said the High School South senior.
After concluding her field hockey season, Elias has filled some of her potential free time by picking up more work shifts. Over the summer, her teammates visited her at Cranbury Pizza in a show of support.
“I think something that will definitely stand out is the relationships that we have with each other,” Elias said. “They are very uplifting and encouraging. Even though not everyone is friends with everyone, we’re a close-knit team, and everyone respects each other. That’s what we’ve prided ourselves on.”
Elias proved to be one of the veterans that the Pirates field hockey team could rely on while putting together its best season in her four years, the last three of which she played varsity. Elias was central defender for WW-P South team that finished 5-8-3.
“She held together the defense in the middle of the field by communicating and backing up our midfield and getting back to control play on the top part of the circle,” said Tracy Klugerman, who moved up from assistant coach to head coach this year. “She was a solid player in the middle, a solid force on defense who contributed a lot on both ends of the field.”
Elias didn’t put up a lot of offensive statistics. That honor went to Samantha Forrest, who led the team with 10 goals and an assist. Elias has been defensive minded from the outset when she picked up the sport in middle school.
“My mom played in high school,” Elias said. She encouraged my older sister to try it and me. I really love this sport. No matter if you’re good or bad, you end up touching the ball in the game. It’s instant gratification.”
Elias rose quickly into a prominent role. She jumped from the freshman team to starting on defense as a sophomore, to being entrusted at sweeper last year as the last line of defense.
She returned this year to the line ahead of the sweeper so she could handle the ball more.
“She got hurt for a little part of the season,” Klugerman said. “She came from a hand injury at the end of last season, and reinjured it again and missed about a week and a half. It’s noticed when she’s not on the field. When we got her back, it was definitely a positive.”
Elias was one of nine seniors that set the tone for the Pirates along with Saanya Bhargava, Forrest, Suravi Kumar, Siddhi Shah, Akanksha Pandey, Anisha Chakraborty, Priyanka Iyer and Cynthia Hansen.
“Phoebe is one our senior leaders,” Klugerman said. “She’s one of those players that always has a great attitude, is always team spirited, and she wants to do well for the team and do whatever she can for the team. She’s well liked and well respected by all her other teammates and coaches. She’s fun loving and has a great attitude.”
“Our team really prides itself on being there extra early and making sure all our equipment is out and ready,” Elias said. “We like to enforce that to the younger girls—come and do your best all the time. We want to set a good example.”
The Pirates posted their most wins in a season since 2015. Only four of their losses were by more than two goals.
“I thought we had a really good season,” Klugerman said. “We matched up well with every team we played. The score might not always have shown that, but we held some very tough teams to some low scores. We made a lot of strides this year.”
The Pirates are looking to build on this year’s success. They have a strong junior class returning and can take a page from this year’s leaders.
After finishing her playing career, Elias is on to her next pursuit, and she is a leader in seemingly every activity that she does.
She was director of props for the musical, “Bring It On,” last year, which included designing and creating a 16-foot by 4-foot banner. She will serve again as director of props for this year’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” It’s a fun activity that keeps her connected to friends and displays her responsibility.
“Sophomore year, I started working backstage with the musical,” Elias said, explaining that as the director of props, she is responsible for budgeting for them and creating them. I am trusted with the director’s Amazon account to order things we need.”
Elias is also involved in a few of the school’s clubs, and said she likes nothing more than the WW-P South peer leader program.
“We run freshmen groups to orient them to the first year of high school and make sure they’re well adjusted and have discussions with them,” Elias said. “We’re like a second branch of the guidance department. We’re like their outreach.”
“It was a select group of students so it makes you feel special. You get chosen as a sophomore. There’s a whole application process. They put you in an ‘audition’ and see how you get along and communicate with others, then pick from there. I’ve been in it for three years.”
Elias also shows responsibility outside of school. This year, she has worked her way up to president of the Princeton Area Juniorettes, which is the younger version of the Princeton Area Junior Women’s Club.
“We get together once a month,” she said. “It’s a club for middle and high school girls. We do various charity events. We set up the Wish Tree at MarketFair. We do gift-wrapping, we help at the flea market, and we play Bingo at a local senior citizen center. We do things that vary year to year.”
Elias used to play lacrosse for South, but took the job worked at Cranbury Pizza last spring instead. She intends to stay around the food and beverage industry, but in a different capacity after college.
“I’m going into hospitality,” Elias said. “Not as much cooking, but as learning about management. I’m not sure what to expect 100 percent.”
Elias started to think about her future in the food and beverage industry after her sixth grade food science experiment. That memory serves as the subject of her college essay and sparked a passion that remains. Elias continues to bake in her free time, which isn’t often given everything that she has going on during her final year at WW-P South.
“One thing I like more than cooking,” Elias said, “is eating what I cook.”