MEQUON, Wis. – When Rachel Scholz was making a college decision a few years ago, some of the factors that likely came into play were academics, being close to home, and the overall the right fit for her as a student. Athletics wasn't on her mind, despite a successful high school career in multiple sports at nearby Living Word Lutheran.
Flash forward a few years and Concordia Wisconsin was set to add Field Hockey, one of the sports Scholz excelled in during her prep career. The Falcons first year of competition was set for this fall, Scholz's senior year. Still, she was uncertain if she was going to join a new program and play just one season.
"I remember reading the story that CUW was adding field hockey and I actually wasn't going to play," Scholz said of her first learning of the Falcons new program. "Coach [Samantha] Landis talked with my high school coach and then contacted me about playing, and I got the idea in my head of what a great experience it would be."
The experience certainly has been a rewarding one for Scholz, who leads the Falcons in goals this season with five. Not bad for a player who hadn't played the sport in three years.
Still, Scholz (Cedarburg, Wis.) knew she would be entering a challenging situation as the Falcons embarked upon their first season together. While CUW was bringing in several players with field hockey experience, others came in with limited knowledge of the sport. Add those factors in with a schedule against seasoned programs, and certainly, you could see the challenges facing the first-year program.
"The start of our season was kind of an up-and-down experience," Scholz said of the early portion for the Falcons. "We've been competing and earning the respect of our opponents."
The Falcons have opened some eyes this year with four wins, three of those against NCAA Division III opponents. The biggest of those was a 2-1 win over Ohio Wesleyan, a program that has been in existence since 1971. Ohio Wesleyan has won double-digit games 21 times and CUW defeated them its 10th game as a program.
Scholz has played a large role in the success on the field for the Falcons, but she also plays a key role in serving as a leader to a young team. One of the reasons Landis wanted her for the inaugural season was to help guide this team, one that would play all but one game on the road. The Falcons travel has taken them to several states, including New York, Arkansas, Ohio, and Kentucky.
"The traveling has been tough," stated Scholz. "The sleep schedule can get messed up, but it has given us time to bond on the bus. We are a pretty close-knit group and in a way, the traveling has helped."
Now Scholz gets a chance to play a home game Friday when the Falcons host Lindenwood Belleville, a team they defeated 9-0 earlier this season. It will be an important day for Scholz, who could be competing in her only home contest in a Falcons uniform, although she may return next season if she attends graduate school at CUW.
"I've invited many family and friends to come Friday," said Scholz, excited and ready for her first collegiate home event. "I'm going to think of it as probably my last and only home game and I'm going to put everything I got into this game."
Scholz has already put everything she has into what could be her only season with the Falcons Field Hockey program. And to think she nearly didn't take advantage of an opportunity she now will never forget.
"After talking with coach I got it into my brain that I really wanted to be a part of something," Scholz recalled of her decision to join a few years ago. "I wanted to help grow this sport, not only at CUW but in the state of Wisconsin as well."
She has done just that, helped grow the sport for her team. As a goal scorer, but most importantly, as a leader, Rachel Scholz has made her mark on the Concordia Wisconsin Field Hockey program. Don't miss a chance to see the impact she's made in what could be her only collegiate home game, Friday at 4 p.m. against Lindenwood Belleville.