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Warhill field hockey players Kayla Cooke, Jessica Cooke and Haley Smith have become accustomed to playing with each other on the field the past three years.
On Oct. 25, the trio committed to playing with each other for at least the next four years when they verbally committed to play field hockey for Division II Newberry College in South Carolina.
In the process, the three players became the first Warhill field hockey commits in program history.
For the Cooke sisters, playing together in college was always the plan. In recruiting terms, the sisters were a “package deal,” meaning prospective schools would have to accept commitments from both players.
“Jessica and I from the beginning decided we wanted to go [to school] together, so we made sure each coach knew they had to recruit both of us,” Kayla Cooke said.
The decision to play in college together was as much a family matter as it was an on-field one. Jessica Cooke said she plays her best field hockey with Kayla, whom she plans to room with in college, and felt their established on-field chemistry would be beneficial to whichever school earned their commitments.
“She’s my best friend, so I wanted to go somewhere I could be with her,” Jessica Cooke said. “We have a chemistry and telepathy. I can’t imagine playing without her on the field.”
After the Cooke sisters took an unofficial visit to Newberry College, a small liberal arts college with an enrollment of just more than 1,000 students, in March, the two encouraged Smith to reach out to Newberry Coach Catherine Somits.
Smith, who plays on the same club field hockey team — Hawks Premier — as the Cooke sisters, developed a rapport with Somits and took an official visit to Newberry in May.
Like the Cooke sisters, Smith loved the small-campus feel and the prospect of playing with some of her high school teammates.
The three Warhill teammates took official visits to Newberry College together the weekend of Oct. 23. On the final day of their official visit, all three teammates received scholarship offers from Somits to play for Newberry.
The trio accepted the scholarship offers on the spot, becoming the first Warhill field hockey players to commit to play for a college.
It was an emotional moment for the three players, all of whom play forward for the Lions, as well as their high school Coach Kristen Castano. The Cooke sisters and Smith called Castano to tell her the news and could sense her excitement over the phone.
“I don’t think she’ll admit she cried, but we all know she did,” Kayla Cooke joked. “She was excited for us to be the first people to be recruited from Warhill for field hockey.”