USA Field Hockey NEWS Athlete Spotlight: G...

Athlete Spotlight: Gianna Glatz

Aug. 28, 2020, 12:45 p.m. (ET)

Each athlete that wears the red, white and blue has a unique story to how their careers came to fruition. From the junior level to the senior squad, USA Field Hockey is putting national team athletes under the spotlight to share their journeys.

“Be better” – a short, but significant phrase that resonates with many athletes. Gianna Glatz is a such rising star that uses these words to excel on the pitch and between the posts for the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team.

The Medford, N.J. native first played soccer growing up before discovering field hockey in the third grade. From there, Glatz became a multi-sport athlete in lacrosse and field hockey for the “Junior Renegades” youth league, and over the years grew to love the latter more. As her passion for the game grew she also found being a goalkeeper was equally enthusiastic.

“Playing for the town’s youth league means everyone has to rotate playing every position, regardless of personal preference,” said Glatz. “When it was my turn to play in goal, I realized I enjoyed being the goalkeeper as my footwork and reaction seemed to rise above my other teammates who were better on the field. This ultimately led me to try out as a goalkeeper for a nearby club team and I’ve played the position ever since.”

Growing up Glatz played for a number of USA Field Hockey club teams, starting with Spirit of USA. The majority of her experience came as a member of WC Eagles before moving on to play for the Mid-Jersey Knights prior to college.

She played for Shawnee High School from 2013-17 and amassed 465 total saves for the Renegades and was named First Team All-South Jersey in 2016. While competing in high school, Glatz also remained active in goal through Futures and competed for several years. She played in each edition of the National Futures Championship from 2012-17, participated in the AAU Junior Olympic Games in 2014 and 2015 and Young Women’s National Championship in 2018 and 2019. Throughout her time in the Olympic Development Pathway, Glatz learned through the coaching philosophy of Meredith Civico, and when the time came to play collegiately, becoming a Scarlet Knight was a natural fit. 

“Rutgers was my USA Field Hockey Futures site growing up, which gave me the ability to learn from Meredith and the coaching staff early in my field hockey career,” continued Glatz. “The coaching staff and the Rutgers Athletics administration were always warm and welcoming and I believed in Meredith’s vision for our field hockey program and the team culture that she created. These factors, along with the ability to play for my home state, and some pressure from my dad, who is a Rutgers alum, ultimately made my decision to continue my field hockey and academic career at Rutgers.”

In three seasons for the Scarlet Knights, Glatz has appeared in 54 games, recorded nearly 3,500 minutes of game time and holds a 1.67 goals against average. She has also accumulated a number of honors each season including First Team All-Region (2018, 2019), First Team All-Big Ten (2018, 2019) and Big Ten All-Tournament Team (2017). Most recently, she was awarded the 2019-20 Werblin Award, which is given to a Rutgers student-athlete that has received national recognition or has won a national championship in the most recent academic year. Academically, Glatz is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten recipient (2018, 2019), two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and recipient of the 2019 Athletic Director’s Excellence Award.

Her senior year, like hundreds of other student-athletes around the United States, have faced unknown territory as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted practices, competitions and championships this spring and fall. With the Big Ten officially announcing a postponement of the fall season in early July, Glatz and her teammates have been creative in staying connected and active this summer.

“Having our fall competition season canceled was not what I envisioned for my senior year,” admitted Glatz. “It has been a challenging time as a student-athlete, especially because field hockey is such an important part of my life. My teammates and I have been able to find ways to stay connected and support one another. This year has shown the importance of adapting to the current situation and controlling what we can control to prepare for the next opportunity.”

That goes double for her Junior High Performance responsibilities as well as the rest of the U-21 USWNT and other squads. While competition has been on hold, Glatz stays very active in training individually as her next opportunity to play awaits.

“I am fortunate enough to have a great strength and conditioning coach from Rutgers who personalized our team’s training program based on position and the equipment we could access,” said Glatz. “I consistently kept my personal goals and team goals in mind, and I was able to train safely with a couple of teammates throughout the summer. It has certainly been less field hockey than I was expecting to play this summer, but I tried to make the most of it and use this time as an opportunity to improve.”

Wearing the USA jersey, Glatz most recently competed with the U-21 USWNT in a series against Canada in Chula Vista, Calif. in February. In 2019, she was a member of the team that traveled to Monchengladbach, Germany to play in the 3 Nations Invitational. She also was named to the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Indoor Team in 2015-16 and  U-19 Indoor USWNT in 2017. Through the years, that motto to “be better” has pushed her further and further through the Olympic Development Pathway.

“During the tryout process, I felt slight nerves before games and training sessions, but once I stepped on the field, the nerves slipped away, and I was able to enjoy competing with girls who share the same competitive nature and love for the game as I do,” said Glatz. “Playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team has been a dream of mine, which made the moment I found out I was named a member of the U-21 team absolutely amazing. It is such a great opportunity to be coached by Jarred, Martu, Tracey and Cheri, who are always ready to share their knowledge and support our development.”

Aside from training, she has stayed active in the community along with fellow Rutgers student-athletes by volunteering for Soles4Souls, a charity that donates and distributes new and gently used shoes and other service projects to those in need, including cleaning schools, volunteering at orphanages and more. She has gone on two service trips so far with the organization. Her first was to Jamaica her freshman year and the Navajo Nation the following summer to help in these endeavors. Glatz is also actively involved with the Somerset Community Action Program (SCAP) in Franklin Township, N.J., which provides daycare for children of families who live at, or are below the poverty line. Glatz actively assists SCAP staff in taking care of infants and kids, playing games with them and helping with arts and crafts.