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A family affair for the Watro family

BY DANNY PAYNE | OCTOBER 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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When Wendy Watro chose to play field hockey at Iowa in the late-1970s and early ‘80s, she unknowingly laid the groundwork for a special bond to be created. More than 30 years later, the bond was solidified when her daughter, Sara, made the same decision.

The elder Watro began her freshman year at Iowa in 1978, when the field-hockey program was very different from what it is today. Under head coach Judith Davidson, the team’s home was Hubbard Park for the first two years of her playing career. During her junior and senior seasons, field hockey played on the turf in Kinnick.

“Hayden Fry was really, really good about letting us play,” Wendy Watro said. “Although we practiced at like, 6:30 in the morning, stuff like that. But we were just elated that we could play on Kinnick and had a much better surface to play on.”

That surface paid dividends for the Hawkeyes — they won Big Ten titles in 1980 and ‘81. Over those two seasons, Iowa posted 44 wins, including a 25-5-1 mark in Wendy Watro’s senior campaign.

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Despite her mother’s history in the sport, it was a challenge getting Sara Watro to change from one pitch to another. Growing up, she played travel soccer and did not want to give up the sport for field hockey.

“I would always make comments like, ‘Oh, someday, you’ll play field hockey,’ ” Wendy Watro said. “I think she knew it really got me, because she’d say, ‘Oh no, no, I’m playing soccer.’ ”

Wendy Watro’s wish was granted when a group of her daughter’s friends began to play the sport around the time when Sara was in seventh grade.

Obviously, the switch paid dividends for the junior, who earned all-conference honors in her senior year at Methacton High School in Eagleville, Pa.

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Because her father, Jim Watro, graduated from Penn State, Sara Watro was exposed to the tension between Penn State and Iowa. When the time came for her to choose where she would attend college, she received opinions from both sides.

“My dad wanted me to look there, just at the school,” she said. “And my mom was like, ‘Why don’t we take a look here, too?’ ”

Even though Wendy Wartro wanted her daughter to be a Hawkeye, she knew it was important to let her make the decision on her own and not to push too hard.

“I was almost over exaggerating how I wanted her to try to pick a school based on what she wanted,” Wendy Watro said. “I must have told her a million times, you know, make sure you look at other schools.”

When Sara Watro expressed an interest going to school in Iowa City, her mother and the Hawkeye coaching staff could not have been more excited. The family visited Iowa, and she fell in love with the coaching staff and facilities and signed her letter of intent in February of her senior year at Methacton.

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Sara Watro’s coaches and teammates touted her as a great person on and off the field.

“I’m just really happy that she’s happy and she has had this opportunity,” head coach Tracey Griesbaum said.

Hawkeye Aubrey Coleman shared similar sentiments.

“I have nothing but good things to say about her,” she said.

Now in the midst of her junior season at Iowa, Sara Watro has appeared in all 13 games this season for the Hawkeyes, tallying 2 goals on 4 shots on goal.

The junior also excels off the pitch — she earned All-Academic honors in her first two season wearing the Black and Gold.

For Wendy Watro, she couldn’t be more proud of the path her daughter has gone down.

“Having my daughter play for Iowa is a dream come true,” she said.

Sara Watro shares a similar attitude about playing for the Hawkeyes, and, she said, their relationship outside field hockey nothing short of great.

“She’s my support system,” Sara Watro said. “Not just with hockey — with school, and friends, and everything.”


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