As part of our weekly Wednesday Chasing the Dream posts, we’ll be featuring a USWNT athlete up until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Peanut butter and jelly
Cat and mouse
Ross and Rachel
Salt and pepper
We’d like to add one more to the list. A hockey ball and USWNT athlete Paige Selenski. Capitalizing on her turbo like speed and the strength of her stick skills in the attack circle, the Shavertown, Pa. native is a huge threat on the international scene. The connection between Selenski and a hockey ball is somewhat magnetic. More than likely this means hitting the hard, plastic ball into the backboard, but there are have been a few occasions when Selenski has been on the receiving end, earning some shiners. Maybe the collection of five battle scars, acts as warning signals to her opponents that she’s an all-out, without-hesitation aggressive attacker that won’t stop for anything until the goal whistle blows.
“There have been a few bruises and a broken nose,” said Selenski. “At this rate, it’s normal. I just want to slap a Band-Aid on it and get back on the field.”
Although tough-spirited, there are some things a little gauze and medical tape won’t heal.
In late March of 2015 Selenski suffered from a rare injury where her hamstring tore from the bone. She took a month off for rehabbing purposes and then played in the 2015 Hockey World League Round 3 in Spain and the 2015 Pan American Games in Canada. Her hamstring pain resurfaced and she was forced to make a decision – surgery or attempt to let it heal on its own. She opted for surgery putting in every ounce of energy and effort to get back to the game and team she loves. While the team was training in San Diego, Calif. at the beginning of 2016, Selenski was in Lancaster, Pa., pushing herself through four-a-days, whatever it took to be back to full-tilt. Finally, all of extra hours seen and unseen paid off in May 2016 when she was back on the turf.
“It was eye-opening in a sense,” said Selenski. “It gave me perspective of how hard I can push my myself physically and mentally.”
A graduate from the University of Virginia, Selenski was named the 2012 Virginia Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year at the 67th Annual Portsmouth Sports Club Jamboree, the first collegiate athlete to twice earn the distinction. She scored the 100th goal of her career, marking as the 10th player in NCAA history to score 100 career goals at the time. Selenski was ranked among the top-five players in the nation in scoring, goals-per-game and points per game. She took her sharp shooting skills with to the senior national team in 2009 where she made an immediate impact. She took her senior year off at the University of Virginia to move to Coronado, Calif. to further her training full time with the red, white and blue. Her dedication paid off as she was selected to the London 2012 Olympic Games roster. Since then, Selenski has continues to play an integral part of Team USA's attack.
Her career has not been a solo journey. Since the elementary days of hockey, Selenski has always leaned on the love of her family. Brothers Brian and Greg and her mother and father are and continue to be a constant in her life. It’s an unbreakable bond strengthened by adversity. Navigating through high school homework is tough enough for any teen, but Selenski was also coping with her mother's treatment for Ovarian Cancer. Admirably and brave to put her personal hardships aside and attempting to forge some kind of normalcy, Selenski’s mother supported her daughter during the early years of hockey by always sitting on the sideline and attending high school practices and games. What happens when your constant, number one fan is no longer in the stands? It has the power to be debilitating. Selenski took the hurt and extracted from it the unshakeable strength and toughness of her mother and used it as a catalyst to propel her to extraordinary goals in sport.
“With Longstreth, I created a stick in my mom and aunt’s honor,” said Selenski. “The teal represents Ovarian Cancer Awareness for my mom and the pink represents Breast Cancer Awareness for my aunt. The stick is a reminder of why I play and who I play for.”
Within reach of 150 caps and as an Olympian, Selenski reflects back to why she was attracted to the sport in the first place.
“I love the diversity of how athletic you need to be to play field hockey,” said Selenski. “You need to be quick and strong and powerful all over. To be successful, you need to use your entire body, every muscle comes into play someway, somehow.”
Her perseverance through tragedy coupled with dynamite pitch presence has molded Selenski into a household hockey name within the United States. The sky is the limit to what she’s able to accomplish when up against an obstacle.