Sophomore Zarrella a leader through actions, attitude

Vassar women’s field hockey has surged early this season, having a 3-1 winning record for the firstfour games this year. Midfielder Bianca Zarrella has proven herself to be an invaluable member of the team. Fittingly wearing the number 1 on her jersey, Zarrella is currently the number one points holder on the team, with an overall total of two goals, two assists, and six points. Although only a sophomore, Zarrella has helped lead her team to crucial victories this season.

Zarrella’s interest in field hockey began in a very unconventional way. “I really wasn’t interested in it at all,” explained Zarrella. “I started in seventh grade because it was the only sport that my middle school offered other than basketball, and I was too short for that. So I played field hockey because I wanted to be sporty.” It was this serendipity that sparked a deep love for the game within Zarrella. She was recruited to the Vassar team near the middle of her senior year in high school. “Cara Dunn, our coach last year, reached out to me and told me to consider doing an overnight at Vassar,” she said. “I wasn’t really considering Vassar, most of my prospective schools were around Boston, and Vassar was three hours away from home. But I came to the overnight and just loved it.”

Zarrella quickly made her presence known on the team at Vassar, being one of the top players her freshman year. During her first year as a Brewer athlete, Zarrella claimed to have learned a lot about the team dynamic and what it’s like to work so closely with a group of people. “I had been on teams before, but I had never had to live with my teammates,” she expressed. “I think you get a lot closer because you live so close to them. You can meet up and have dinner with them. So I really like playing field hockey in college because you can get that much closer to your teammates. It just makes the bond stronger.”

Bianca’s teammates share similar sentiments towards her as a player and a friend. Sophomore teammate Haley Merritt expressed her admiration for Bianca’s demeanor on and off the field. “I think that one of the best things about Bianca as a teammate is that she is always one of the best players on the field no matter who we’re playing, but you would never know it by her demeanor and how she treats her other teammates,” Merritt expressed. “She always is super modest. B is always willing to help everybody and she never acts like it’s a big deal when she dribbles through ten people and slams it into the goal.”

In addition to being a full time student and athlete here on the Vassar campus, Zarrella also balances holding the position of Jewett House treasurer into her schedule.  As treasurer, Zarrella attends weekly house team meetings as well as organizes and keeps track of all the finances and spending done by the house. “I just take it one day at a time,” Bianca explained in response to balancing her schedule. “Some days are more hectic than others, and some days are calm, so I use those days to catch up. on the busier days, I just try and make it to everything, but not stretch myself too thin.”

When it is time to focus on the field, Zarrella has a specific routine to get herself mentally prepared for the match to come. “Always before games, I braid my hair, and that usually takes about twenty minutes,” described Zarrella. “It really gets me in the zone.” Zarrella, as well as the other players on the team, have a “secret sister” that they give encouraging notes to in private or secrecy, further promoting team unity. “I write inspirational quotes on a piece of paper for my secret sister and make it really fancy. That always pumps me up.”

During a game, Zarrella uses her calm demeanor to keep herself focused on every movement on the field. “I tell myself to calm down, take a deep breath,” Zarrella explained. “I always get really excited because I love playing field hockey, but I can get too excited and just be so freaked out that I mess up. So I just have to remember to keep calm.”

As a player and a person, Bianca Zarrella holds the respect of her teammates and coaching staff. Senior co captain Anna Schroeder described her feelings about Zarrella. “Bianca is an excellent representative for Vassar field hockey through her work ethic and drive toward excellence. She not only works hard to improve each day, but also to push us to give our best. I can always trust her with the ball and we work so well together in the midfield. Through her play she strives to make her teammates look good. Bianca’s attitude shows through off of the field as well through her dedication to her friends and classes.”

As a sophomore, Zarrella has taken on a role as a leader to her new teammates. Freshman Emma Bracken explained how she follows Zarrella’s example. “I definitely look up to Bianca as both a player and a person,” Bracken explained. “She undoubtedly leads by example and her SICK stick skills are beyond enviable. She lets her playing do the talking, which I think is the sign of a true player and competitor. As a first year, everything is new and a little scary, but Bianca’s composure on the field is definitely something to aspire to and admire. She’s always playing hard and giving her all, which consequently pushes me to do the same.”

New Head Coach Michael Warari succinctly expressed his thoughts on his talented midfielder. “Talented, aggressive, has a lot of potential, and an even better team player.  She makes us better on and off the field.”

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