How Jessica Dembrowski has become the center of UConn field hockey

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The Huskies suffer a 2-1 loss Friday night against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a double overtime battle at the Sherman Family Sports Complex. Down 1-0 the majority of the game, the Huskies were eventually able to grab a goal in the fourth quarter to tie it up and force overtime play. The Scarlet Knights capitalized on a penalty stroke in the second overtime to win, making it Rutgers third ever victory over UConn out of the 33 life-time matchups between the two programs. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk/Daily Campus.

Jessica Dembrowski has been the center of skill at the University of Connecticut field hockey program over the past five years, with her offensive intensity leading the Huskies to many of victories. But behind her athletic success on the field, Dembrowski’s reliable and humble personality has shaped the family-oriented team that is UConn field hockey.   

Dembrowski’s effort shown on the field displays the stamina that she is able to maintain; she has started every single game since her freshman season in 2017 and has played through most of them. Although she works on her endurance heavily in the off-season, Dembrowski mainly paid tribute to her teammates for assisting her in these fast-paced games:   

“It’s also a team effort,” said Dembrowski. “If I do a long run up the field and it’s really tiring, I always have my teammates to get back for me.”   

Cheyenne Sprecher, teammate, roommate, and longtime friend of Dembrowski, had no trouble adding to her caring nature both on and off the field. Sprecher, UConn’s dependable senior goalkeeper, has been playing field hockey with Dembrowski since age seven starting in their hometown of Palmyra, Pennsylvania.   

“Now that we’re older, I think she has been more of a role model for the younger players on and off the field,” Sprecher said. She just brings a positive vibe to our team.”   

Dembrowski said she has learned to exude this positivity from the players that came before her and from the dedicated coaching staff, including head coach Paul Caddy, and assistant coaches Cheri Schulz, Chrissy Davidson and Nancy Stevens.   

“The coaching staff holds you to such a high standard, that it makes you a better person,” Dembrowski said. “The characteristics and hard work ethic they expect us to have on the field carries off the field as well,” said Dembrowski.   

Dembrowski served as the field hockey team captain during both her junior and senior year at Palmyra Area High School, displaying her strong leadership skills early in her career. She became involved with the sport in her early childhood, starting as a “weed whacker,” a term used for youth field hockey leagues.   

Through these leadership skills, Dembrowski has developed the ability to be a core player on the field that contributes to almost every goal.   

“Although she’s not the one always scoring the goals and always getting the assists on the stats sheets, she does a lot for our team that a lot of people don’t see,” said Sprecher.   

The Huskies suffer a 2-1 double overtime loss against UMass during a sunny Sunday afternoon matchup on Oct. 24, at the George Sherman Family Sports Complex. Even though UConn dominated most of the game heavily outshooting UMass 24-7 after UConn senior Lindsay Dickinson scored off of a penatly corner early in the game, the Huskies couldn’t find the back of the net. UConn will finish the regular season with a home game against Delaware on Sunday, Oct. 31 at noon. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk.

Dembrowski has been notorious this season for inserting all of the Huskies’ penalty corners, which are key opportunities to score a goal in a field hockey game. The pressure of successfully executing this play does not weigh on Dembrowski, though, who explained that her accuracy has come from hard work and repetition.  

Although Sprecher mentioned that Dembrowski’s centrality as a player may not reflect her stat sheets, her 31 goals and 27 assists over the course of her UConn field hockey career and her nomination as an All-Big East First Team member are extremely impressive.   

But how did Dembrowski gain this effortless confidence in continuously being able to lead her team to victory? She discussed the bond she shares with her older sister, Katie, through playing field hockey and how it played a role in her current success:   

“She’s been a huge role model for me growing up,” Dembrowski said of Katie. “She’s always been everything that I wanted to be, and I’ve always looked up to her. Field hockey has always been something special that we’re able to share together.”  

Dembrowski returned to the UConn field hockey program for a fifth year under the NCAA’s COVID-19 eligibility extension. She is working towards a certificate in the Foundations of Public Health and will graduate from the program this spring, making this field hockey season her final one at UConn.   

Dembrowski hopes that as her UConn field hockey career is coming to a close, she will still remain connected to the sport in some way, whether that be just for fun or helping out with her high school team while she is close to home.   

Looking back on her time as a UConn athlete, Dembrowski is too humble to brag about her astounding accomplishments; instead, it is the experience of being a UConn athlete and forming life-long relationships with her team that have brought her the most joy.   

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