Sports Person of the Week
Jacaruso Excels as a Junior Captain
Margaret Jacaruso took on a major leadership as a junior captain for the Valley Regional field hockey team this year. Margaret was also named a captain for the Warriors’ girls’ lacrosse squad. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Jacaruso)
Margaret Jacaruso is a three-sport athlete who plays for the Warriors’ field hockey, indoor track, and girls’ lacrosse teams. This year, Margaret stepped into a prominent leadership role as a junior captain for Valley field hockey and is set to serve in that same capacity with the lacrosse team in the spring.
Being named a junior captain is a point of pride for Margaret, especially since she earned that title in her two favorite sports. Margaret has logged plenty of varsity minutes for Warriors’ field hockey and lacrosse squads, and she believes that experience is what helped her earn the captain’s hat.
“I’m definitely proud of being named team captain for field hockey and lacrosse,” says Margaret, who garnered All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors this fall. “I’m proud to be a captain of both of the main sports that I do. I have been playing varsity for all three of my sports every year so far.”
Margaret has become an effective offensive player with the Valley field hockey team, despite the fact that she entered the program without much experience in the sport. Margaret had a long history of playing lacrosse, beginning when she was in 1st grade, but her only involvement in field hockey prior to her stint at Valley was in an intramural program.
“Freshman year was my first time getting used to field hockey. Over that summer, I didn’t really know that I was showing signs that I could play varsity, but the upperclassmen saw it,” Margaret says. “They helped me a lot, and playing summer league with them gave me a lot of time with experienced players against tougher competition. Then the season started, and I kind of just went for it. I was 14 playing against 18 year-olds, just kind of figuring out how to play. I’m happy that they saw something in me and pulled it out of me.”
Margaret has a unique outlook in lacrosse and field hockey, because she plays on different ends of the field in each sport. Margaret plays forward in field hockey, but is a defender in lacrosse. This juxtaposition allows Margaret to have a better understanding on how to approach her opponents.
“When I play forward in field hockey, I know from a defensive perspective what to anticipate. I know if I’m far from the goal, defenders may not step up on me, because I’m too far to take a shot. In lacrosse, I know when their forwards are far, I don’t step up and risk getting beat,” says Margaret. “It’s given me more respect for both sides. Some people get in the mindset that they only want to play offense or defense. Even midfielders end up falling into the offensive or defensive aspects of their position.”
As for track, Margaret competes in the 600-meter run, which is considered a difficult distance to master. Many athletes prefer to either run in long-distance or sprinting events. The 600 is right in the middle, but Margaret has excelled in her event.
“I’m a pretty good runner. I thought I was going to be a sprinter, but we have so many on the team,” Margaret says. “The 600 is a weird distance. It’s longer than a sprint, but you don’t have time to find your pace. They stuck me in there as a trial run, and I was pretty good at it. Freshman year, I was ninth in Shorelines, and I was Freshman of the Year. My sophomore year, I was second at Shorelines, and I also got the Most Improved Award.”
With all her experience across multiple sports and different avenues of training, Margaret has a wealth of knowledge to offer her teammates on any of her squads. Margaret was honored to be selected as a captain, and she tries to live up to her title by setting the best example.
“My favorite part of this season was stepping up and being a captain. I love supporting my teammates, walking them through skills, and giving advice. Coaches are looking at everything and have to do five things at once. I can be in the moment. I don’t have to worry about who looks good in what position. I can just step in and help with a drill,” says Margaret. “It was fun to build relationships with the girls, let them know that they can come to me outside of field hockey. It’s a weird time, and everyone kind of needs someone. It was nice to feel I had a purpose. It was an honor to be given that opportunity.”
Valley field hockey Head Coach Beth McCabe Powers values the variety of skills that Margaret brings to the Warriors. McCabe Powers likes that Margaret is a multi-faceted contributor on the field and knew that she would be an excellent captain off the field.
“Margaret is high versatile player on the attack line. She also plays on both attacking and defensive corners for us. She’s a natural leader that is always striving to make herself a better player,” McCabe Powers says. “Margaret is fearless in front of our opponents’ goalies and has excellent skills in tipping the ball into the net. She wants everyone to improve their skills and shares her time and effort with the younger players. She is a fantastic student-athlete and captain.”
As many student-athletes across the state can attest, the 2020 season was rife with challenges. As hard as it was to contend with obstacles put up by the COVID-19 pandemic, Margaret was happy to have the chance to compete this year, even after missing out on the Shoreline Conference Tournament.
“It was definitely a challenge, but we came in with the mindset to do what we can. We got closer as a team because of the circumstances. It was hard to live through this, and field hockey was an outlet for all of us,” Margaret says. “Losing the postseason was really sad, but we definitely improved a lot throughout the season. Looking back at that first game with so many people in different spots, everyone rose to the occasion and worked hard. I’m so proud of all of my teammates. We adapted to what was thrown at us. We had a lot of fun together. We stuck through it. I’m excited for next year.”