Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
Last Thursday afternoon three young ladies on the Ocean Township High School varsity field hockey team all signed their national letters of intent. In the fall they will be playing the sport they love in college.
For the past four years Erica Pardon has been a member of the varsity squad. She wore number 20 for the Spartans. “As a freshman, I honestly picked my number based on the fact that it was the only one in my size,” said Pardon.
When asked what her favorite memory was during her time at Ocean High School she didn’t hesitate. “It was the state semifinal game against Rumson where we won in overtime,” Pardon said. One memory which was sad for her occurred during her junior year. “It was very emotional to play my last game junior year with all the graduating seniors.”
“Erica’s composure on the field is what made her a fierce competitor and a leader,” said Kristin McKenna, head coach of the Spartans. She added that you can never sake Pardon. “No matter the game, she always plays as if it were a championship opportunity.”
Pardon feels that her greatest skill is her ability to read the field and motivate her teammates. “Over the past four years my game has changed as I became more confident in my skills and ability to get past my opponents,” said Pardon.
In the fall, Pardon will be part of the Haverford College Fords field hockey team. “I chose Haverford for their great academics, excellent reputation, and beautiful campus,” Pardon said. It is located in Pennsylvania and is a very hard school to get into. “I am entering college as an undecided major, I am not sure exactly where I will be in five years, but I hope through my hard work on the field and in the classroom at Haverford I will do something interesting and exciting with my future.”
As a Spartan, she played midfield, and has 47 career goals and 33 assists. She also added that the toughest school she played against was Shore Regional. “Their head coach had been my first field hockey coach and many of the players were my teammates from my club team,” Pardon said.
Wearing number 4 for Ocean Township was Ally Walk. “I picked number 4 because my travel field hockey number starts with a four. And back when I was a freshman, I was excited and nervous for what the next four years on the Ocean field hockey team had to offer me,” said Walk.
Many elite athletes have a ritual or are superstitious before a game. “I have worn the same hairstyle for almost every single game day during my field hockey career thus far,” Walk said. She and Pardon also have a special handshake before every game. “If we had forgotten to do so we would blame our faults on that.”
“Ally currently holds the Ocean Township field hockey record for the most assists in a single season with 27,” said McKenna. For her four-year career, Walk has 28 goals and 52 assists. “She has phenomenal stick skills and was an impact player from the moment she stepped onto the field. She was an offensive force on the field and the anchor in our defense.”
When asked what her favorite memory was, she had a hard time answering. “I cannot exactly pinpoint a specific day or moment, but I would have to say the eternity of my junior year career. I had broken a school record for most assists in a single game and I have a very consistent and steady season,” said Walk. She added that the team that season had developed a special bond.
Her least favorite memory was during her sophomore season. “That was when Covid was still infectious and popular, my brother had tested positive in the middle of my season. Since he was in our household, I had to quarantine for two weeks and missed six regular season games,” Walk said.
Walk believes that her greatest skill as a field hockey player is her vision. “This comes with the many years that I have been playing, I know where and when to make certain plays. I believe that is what makes me different from other players,” said Walk. She also added that her confidence has grown with each year on varsity. “Coach McKenna is the one coach who always put her full trust into me. She has allowed me to make mistakes and has given me room to grow and blossom as a player. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities she gave me.”
In the fall, Walk will be wearing the blue and white of the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats, a college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “I chose them for the challenging education and competitive play. Coach Eager is one of the most welcoming and accepting coaches I have ever met and the girls on the team are simply the best. F&M had everything I could ever need and I am very excited to open up this new chapter in my life,” said Walk. In five years, she hopes to be a graduate and pursuing a career in the fashion merchandising.
Catie Horn wore number 16 as a Spartan field hockey player. “Freshman are always supposed to choose their uniforms last, so my options were limited,” said Horn. Well, she added that 16 for some reason really stuck out to her and it’s what she kept for her entire career at Ocean.
Horn stated that during her junior year, the team wore eye black under their eyes, and said it threw off her game. “So senior season I stopped wearing it. I also feel if my special pair of pizza Hocsocx is my good luck charm,” said Horn.
Her favorite memory as a Spartan was her entire time on the field hockey team. “The connections we made were amazing and always made me excited for practice and game days,” Horn said. She has only two years on the varsity squad playing forward. Like many high school athletes that were in school during the Covid times, are her worst memories. “It was difficult to be able to be an actual team, and we felt very spaced out and not a family. We weren’t able to have the bonding activities we usually have.”
“Catie’s enthusiasm for the sport has always been clear to see since she started with Ocean Township field hockey. Each year she worked to get better,” said McKenna. Last season Horn had six goals and one assist and this year she finished with two goals and one assist as a defender. “Catie’s patience and determination on the field allowed her to be successful this year and contributed immensely to our divisional championship.”
“I feel my greatest strength is being able to adapt to different places or people on the field. My senior season I was moved from a forward to a defender and was able to get comfortable with it and thrive,” said Horn. Over her career as a Spartan her game changed immensely as she changed positions from offensive to defensive. “It was difficult changing my mindset from attacking to defending,” Horn added.
In the Fall she will be attending Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I picked Meredith because it felt like a home away from home. The coaches and girls on the team were beyond welcoming,” said Horn. She also said that the school offers plenty of great majors and minors in a rapidly growing city.
In five years she hopes to be working in sports marketing. “I hope to be some kind of broadcaster for any sports team. Raleigh and its surrounding areas have plenty of sports teams,” she said. Hopefully during her time at Meredith she can get a few internships.