Not all storms hail from the sky.
The traditional sense of an incoming downpour includes alarming dark grey clouds and claps of dramatic, ground-shaking thunder. But there is another kind of fury which is served from the hockey stick of a 5’6", brunette. With jet-like speed and electric agility, USWNT midfielder Katie Reinprecht has been a key contributor on Team USA's roster since 2009.
Before making waves on the international scene, before becoming an Olympian, Reinprecht’s first taste of hockey traces back to second grade. But the first introduction to the sport didn’t bode well for the young Reinprecht.
“The first time I ever picked up a stick, I didn’t really like it,” said Reinprecht. “The ball kept getting stuck in the grass, so I became frustrated. I ended up moving on to other sports but picked it up again in fifth grade. It was only until I played indoor on a faster surface did I see the potential of the sport. Shortly after, I discovered the fast-paced nature of turf. From there my love for hockey took off.”
While still participating in hockey, Reinprecht explored other sports.
“Swimming, tennis, gymnastics, karate, basketball, lacrosse and soccer – growing up, we tried it all,” said Reinprecht. “I think playing different sports when I was younger molded me into the field hockey player I am today. I look at the game in a different light. It made me realize what I truly love and where my passion lies.”
From every angle, Reinprecht soon was surrounded by field hockey with her mother starting the club team, Mystx Field Hockey, and her two sisters, Julia and Sarah, playing just as much as Reinprecht was.
“There is definitely a lot of hockey talk around the dinner table,” said Reinprecht as she chuckled. “In the beginning, when we were younger, we would always feel bad for my dad because the four of us constantly talked about practices or games. Over time, he was right there with us contributing to the conversation.”
Julia, Sarah and Reinprecht became a bit of a package deal, perhaps a silent pact forged in their early days of backyard hockey. The triple threat cycled through Princeton University’s field hockey program where Reinprecht earned honors such as two-time Ivy League Player of the Year (2008, 2009), three-time First Team All American (2009, 2010 & 2012), Four-Time Ivy League Champion and was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year her senior year. In 2011, Reinprecht displayed dedication by pausing her studies to train full time with the U.S. National Team, which gave way to her London 2012 Olympic Games invite. At the time of her graduation, Reinprecht, along with her sister Julia, was one of only four players in Ivy League field hockey history to earn four-time First Team All-Ivy Honors; her sister Sarah was a three-time First Team All-Ivy Honors and a Second Team All-Ivy Honors as well.
Another impressive accolade she has on her playing resume is the title of Olympian. In Reinprecht's first venture to the Olympic Games in 2012, the Perkasie, Pa. native didn't only have family support in the stadium, but on London's blue and pink pitch as well. Reinprecht competed for Team USA alongside her sister, Julia. Although thrilled and honored to represent her country at the top-tier international stage, beside her sister, the final result of the tournament was disappointing for Reinprecht and the team.
“I’ll never forget sitting with the team at the end of it all in London and asking each other what we could have done differently,” said Reinprecht. “This time around it’s different. Yes, we have new coaches and a new training complex but we’re also approaching the Rio Games differently. It’s not in anyway good enough to just go, just participate. We want to change the script. We’re not settling for just going. We want to stand on the podium.”
But going through a second cycle of Olympic Games training wasn’t an easy decision for Reinprecht. Another 4-year commitment required reflection.
“I went back to college after The Games to finish my senior year,” said Reinprecht. “During that time away from the team, I settled into different priorities. It was difficult to wrap my mind around the daily, immersive grind and commitment from that angle, giving so much of yourself to the program. I was hesitant, which seems crazy because I would want it no other way now.”
Now staring at what could be her second run at the Olympic Games, the feisty midfielder is eager to share hockey with sports fans all over the world during August in Rio.
“If anything can be said about our team, it’s that we never, ever give up,” said Reinprecht. “We’re a hard team for any opponent to face because for the entire 60 minutes of play we’re going to be in it until the end. And it’s incredibly exciting to watch.”
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