Simmons seeks elusive field hockey title

Entering her senior year Lady Falcon midfielder Paige Simmons has one last shot at helping to bring the CIF field hockey title to Torrey Pines High School.

“My freshman year we lost in the semi-finals,” said Simmons, sophomore year, we lost the championship game to our rival LCC (La Costa Canyon), and last year we lost in the quarterfinals. This upcoming season our goal is to win it all. Taking the championship is a cool way to go out.”

Simmons was introduced to field hockey in the sixth grade in her physical education class when she lived in Tierrsanta. Two years later the Simmons moved to Del Mar, and Paige played on the field hockey team at Earl Warren Middle School. The coaches at Earl Warren were from the Torrey Pines varsity field hockey team. That team included graduating senior Casan Vanlangen.

This past May, Simmons tried out for the Futures Program and participated in 10 training sessions at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. There she made the Regional California team, with three other Torrey Pines teammates. The California team then went to Virginia Beach, Virginia at the end of June for the National Futures Championship.

“We took second place,” said an excited Simmons. “This was the first time ever a California team made it to the finals. Usually, field hockey is dominated by the Eastern schools.”

One of Simmons’ coaches three years ago at the Junior Olympics was Tiffany Snow, former CIF All-star from San Pasqual High School. Snow is a member of the 2008 U.S.A. Field Hockey team that will compete in Beijing this month.

“One of my dreams is to play on the U.S.A. National team,” said Simmons. “Probably not the 2012 Olympics, because I will still be in college, more likely the 2016 one. That would be a dream come true.”

Last season Simmons saw limited action due to a knee injury.

“I played probably five games in total,” she said. “It was kind of frustrating. My injury was not that serious and it didn’t require surgery. It healed on its own.”

Simmons says she is particularly fond of playing the midfielder position, coordinating passes and being creative in setting up plays. “I love the center of the field, as it gives be the opportunity to see the whole playing area,” she said. “Once in a while I can score also.”

Currently Simmons is torn between two coasts. With an impressive 4.6 GPA, she has narrowed down her choice between two schools, Stanford on the west coast and Columbia on the east coast.

“I just finished going to two field hockey camps this summer,” said Simmons, “one at Wake Forrest in North Carolina, and the other at Stanford. This past spring my mother Phoebe and I visited New York and Columbia University. I know I haven’t been subjected to cold and snow, but if I chose Columbia it will be a lifestyle change from San Diego. Both schools are very strong academically and a good education is very important to me.”

Simmons says besides her mother Phoebe, her role models are Steve and Tara Jelley-Danielson, coaches of her travel club team, Rush of San Diego.

“I like to surround myself with people I admire,” she said. “In their day, Steve and Tara they were amazing field hockey players. They are two of the best people I ever met.”

Outside the United States, men play field hockey, worldwide. Players from Europe are amazed to find out that almost exclusively girls and women play field hockey in America.

“My most memorable field hockey game was during my sophomore year,” said Simmons. “It was a Palomar League game against our rival La Costa Canyon and we beat them. We were missing our star player and still beat them. The game was tied, went into overtime and double overtime, and we won by strokes (penalty shots). I took one of those penalty shots. It is a lot different intensity against LCC. It is not personal, since we know everyone. We just wanted to beat them.”

Simmons was also on the Lady Falcons varsity softball team her sophomore year, but, decided not to join her junior year as to concentrate solely on field hockey.

“I have to work on my fitness,” Simmons admits. “I have to be on par with the rest of the league, be in top shape and get faster. Also work on my confidence, believing in myself and be sure of my abilities.”