Olivia Geniti’s quest to represent the United States in field hockey is taking her to Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The Scotia-Glenville High School junior and a handful of other Section II standouts have been selected to compete in the under-19 group at USA Field Hockey’s Nexus Championship July 7-14 at the Virginia Beach Regional Training Center.
The event, which will also include competition in under-16 and under-14 divisions, is part of USA Field Hockey’s Olympic Development Pathway for youngsters who are seeking spots on junior U.S. national teams.
“That is a big deal, playing for a national team,” Geniti said. “I would love to be a part of that.”
Former Section II stars Kelsey Briddell and Carrie Hanks have been a part of that for quite some time. And on Tuesday, a week after Geniti and the others got their invite to Nexus, they were among 36 athletes named to the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“It’s great for younger players to see that they did it,” said Saratoga Springs field hockey coach Jo-Anne Hostig, who saw Briddell blossom into an all-state performer in her years playing with the Blue Streaks. “It’s, ‘I know who they are.’”
Geniti has gotten to know Briddell and Hanks quite well, and credits them for enhancing her game in training sessions last summer through this spring at Saratoga Peak Performance.
“That is so exciting,” Geniti said of Briddell and Hanks, a Niskayuna graduate, making the USWNT. “I am so happy for them both. They are a huge inspiration for me.”
Johnstown seniors Taryn Ringer and Emily Fleming, Shenendehowa senior Rachel Sterle and Shenendehowa junior Hannah Merritt will join Geniti in Virginia Beach for the Nexus Championship.
“They could be the next ones,” Hostig said. “The biggest thing is you have to work hard, be in the right place at the right time, and when there is an opportunity, take advantage of it.”
Following five games at the Nexus Championship, athletes who shine in each division will be invited to compete in the AAU Junior Olympic Games slated for Aug. 2-5 in Houston. Geniti is intent on getting something out of the Nexus event, whether she is among those chosen or not.
“My next big step is to play in college,” the 17-year-old Geniti said. “I use every opportunity to get better, and this will be a great opportunity to do that.”
Geniti has already accomplished much in reaching the Nexus event, first making it through three select tryout sessions for Region 4 (New York) players, and then being one of about 70 athletes selected for Virginia Beach after an intense one-day, morning-to-late afternoon tryout that brought together Region 4 and Region 3 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) players.
“It was one big tryout,” Geniti said. “We knew what it was for, and we all played our hearts out. We left it out on the field.”
“She moved up the ranks to get to this point,” Scotia-Glenville field hockey coach Kaila Jackson said of Geniti’s path to the Nexus Championship. “It’s huge.”
Jackson isn’t surprised Geniti was among the 216 under-19 players from nine regions that earned an invite to the Nexus event. She has been playing since first grade, and to boost her skills she has competed with both the ADK Field Hockey Club and the HTC (Hear The Cheers) Field Hockey Club based in Connecticut.
Those workouts with Hanks, who played at Maryland, and Briddell, who played at the University at Albany, just made her that much better.
“I have coached her since seventh grade, and she is such a hard worker,” Jackson said. “She is not only super talented, she is super dedicated.”
Geniti was the lone New York player on an HTC under-19 team that competed at USA Field Hockey’s National Indoor Tournament in Virginia in February.
“Over the winter, I was looking for every opportunity to play, and that was an awesome opportunity,” Geniti said. “I went with them, and we won our pool, too.”
Earlier this month, Geniti helped an ADK under-19 team win its pool at the Shooting Stars Tournament in Delaware.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate every chance to play,” Geniti said. “A year ago, I was training on my own in my driveway.”
Geniti played a big role for the Tartans during the “Fall II” high school season with her defense, transitioning of the ball, passing and scoring in the circle, and contributions during penalty corners as an offensive hitter and defensive flyer.
“Center midfield is her main position, but I can put her anywhere,” Jackson said. “Her skill level is so advanced.”
Despite seeing plenty of time between the circles, Geniti still managed to lead the Scotia-Glenville offense with 15 goals and seven assists. She scored three goals when Scotia-Glenville beat Glens Falls in its last game of the season, and in an earlier contest, the Foothills Council all-star and team captain delivered an overtime goal to lift the Tartans past Bethlehem.
“I can play midfield and forward,” Geniti said. “[At Nexus] I will play wherever they need me to play.”
Geniti also plays lacrosse and basketball, is ranked fifth in her 2022 class with a 4.0 GPA, serves as co-president of Scotia-Glenville’s Student Senate and is the Varsity Club’s treasurer, and acts as a youth coach and referees in the three sports she is involved in.
“Olivia is just a quality kid,” former Tartans field hockey coach Lisa Snyder said.
The Nexus Championship under-16 group will include and Cole and Caroline Krempa of Johnstown among its 288 members, and the under-14 group will include Tatum Hickey of Hoosick Falls among its 216 members.
Briddell and Hanks, who both graduated from high school in 2014, were selected for the USWNT after about 150 athletes played games and trained at the June 15-20 Young Women’s National Championship in Virginia Beach. While Hanks was also selected to the USWNT in 2020, Briddell had never made it until this year after playing on the national development team in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
“She has been working toward this. It’s something she wanted,” Hostig said. “She had made the indoor national team, and wanted more.”
Earlier this year, Briddell represented the United States in four FIH Hockey Pro League games.
“In high school and college, she played midfield and forward. They had her on defense,” Hostig said. “I told her, ‘They’re playing you a lot. They see something in you.’”