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East Coast high school friends blossom as teammates in the Hawkeye State

BY CODY GOODWIN | SEPTEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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Sophomore Corinne Allen eventually found a strong sense of comfort when she decided to be a Hawkeye.

She was nervous about the college transition. She was uncertain about how she’d fare on a quicker field-hockey pitch. She wasn’t playing the high-school game anymore.

But the anxiety was quickly put to rest.

Some of Allen’s best friends were there to help.

“It was pretty cool,” Allen said about teammates junior Kelsey Mitchell and senior Geena Lesiak.

“Knowing that they were going to be with me through college is pretty cool … I looked up to them in high school, too.”

All three attended Eastern Regional in Voorhees, N.J., where they claimed two consecutive New Jersey Group IV state championships, in 2007 and 2008. These two were in the midst of 12-consecutive titles — the New York Times heralded the Vikings as a “Field Hockey Dynasty."

The years of playing together has developed a strong on-field chemistry among the tree. Lesiak said she knows where each of her longtime friends is on the field during game situations. They’re used to each other’s style on the pitch, creating favorable circumstances for any team they play for.

Their success on the field, though, is topped by their friendship off it.

“I would say they’re my best friends,” Mitchell said. “We’re very close with one another. We’ll talk to each other about anything and everything.”

It doesn’t stop there. They admit they do everything together, too. They go grocery shopping. They watch movies. They study as a group.

They even take the same flight home during the summers. The three agreed it’s nice to have a familiar face on the plane coming home.

“It’s not just a field-hockey thing,” Lesiak said. “We hang out, but it’s by choice.”

It was the sport, though, that brought the women together. As they slowly started to trickle out of their New Jersey school, they unintentionally followed each other.

Lesiak was the first to head west. Her father, Michael Lesiak, studied for his Ph.D at Iowa State and urged his daughter to look to the Midwest for school. She was hesitant at first, saying she “didn’t want to come all the way out here.”

But, the senior fell in love after a visit. The campus was beautiful, and the team atmosphere was great, she said.

“It was my home away from home,” she said.

After her freshman campaign for the Black and Gold, Lesiak was aware of Mitchell looking at Iowa for school and sport. Lesiak made herself available to answer any questions Mitchell had.

There was no player-on-player recruiting, Lesiak said, but Mitchell said her older friend already attending Iowa played a huge role in her picking her school.

“She had told me how much she liked [Iowa]. That influenced me to take a visit,” Mitchell said.

“Once I got here, it was an easier decision, knowing that I already had a friend here.”

Lesiak will graduate in the spring. Mitchell will be gone the next year. Allen will be the lone Eastern Regional grad left on the current Iowa roster — this is something she doesn’t like to think about, even if it’s inevitable.

“I’ll definitely miss them,” she said, with a hint of dread in her voice. “I have other close friends on the team, too.”

Without a break in the conversation, Mitchell turned her head, smiling confidently.

“But we’re irreplaceable.”


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