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Outstanding In Her Field

Outstanding In Her FieldAfter finishing up her Tufts field hockey career on Oct. 30, Tufts senior Lea Napolitano is facing a bright future.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.03.05] When it came time for high school field hockey star Lea Napolitano to choose a college four years ago, she had her pick of local Division I and II schools. But when it came down to it, Napolitano wanted her college experience to be about much more than just field hockey. So, the Waltham, Mass., native set her sights on Division III Tufts.

"When I was first applying to schools I thought I should go to a Division I school," she told the Daily News Tribune, "but I didn't necessarily want to. I did a lot of [field hockey] camps and I didn't know if I wanted to put in that type of commitment.”

According to Napolitano, who played her last game as a Jumbo on Oct. 30, Tufts offered an attractive balance of opportunities on and off the field. “[During the season] this is just as intense as a Division I school,” she told the Tribune. “But during the off-season, you can do your own thing.”

And Napolitano has kept pretty busy during her college years. When she wasn’t knocking the ball around on the field, the English and community health double major was making the Dean’s List with a 3.5 grade-point average and studying at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

But during the field hockey season, Tufts coach Tina McDavitt told the Tribune that Napolitano, a four-year starter and two-year team captain, was all business.

"She is always working hard," the coach said about the two-time team Most Valuable Player. “She's so coachable. Anything I say to her she nods her head and goes right back out there trying to do it."

McDavitt, who arrived at Tufts two years ago, told the Waltham, Mass., newspaper that she had heard of Napolitano long before she became her head coach. According to the coach, one of the pluses of taking the job at Tufts was the opportunity to work with Napolitano.

"I was excited coming in because she was only a junior and I would still have two years with her," McDavitt said to the Tribune.

And during that time, McDavitt’s respect for Napolitano has only grown.

"There is nothing bad you can say about her," McDavitt explained to the newspaper. "I joke with her parents sometimes that maybe she's too nice. She's the type of player who would knock an opponent down on the field, then stop and see if they are OK."

And she’s also the type of player her teammates can depend on, McDavitt pointed out.

"If girls get stuck on the team [during a game]," McDavitt said, "they think: Get it to Lea and she'll take care of it."

While the Jumbos field hockey season ended with a first round exit from the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament, there is no doubt that Napolitano’s legacy will live on.

According to the Tribune, Napolitano has “quite a lot to look back upon [and] quite a bit more to look forward to long after her field hockey playing days are done.”












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