By Dan Harrison
---- — Even the most talented athletes need to be in the right kind of atmosphere in order to maximize their potential.
Playing for the Ursinus College field hockey team in the fall of 2012, Courtney Scott found herself in an unusual position: struggling to find the joy the sport used to bring her. So after the season Scott decided she needed a change of scenery — and fast. So she transferred to Gordon College for the ensuing spring semester.
The Pennsylvania native quickly found herself in the perfect place as one of the Fighting Scots, and both she and her field hockey team are finding that their potential has no ceiling.
A year after posting a 6-14 record, Gordon saw an immediate turnaround this fall with Scott pioneering its offensive attack. The Fighting Scots went 17-6, won the Commonwealth Coast Conference title and made an appearance in the NCAA Division 3 postseason tournament.
Scott, meanwhile, broke the Gordon single-season goal record with 31 markers and was named to the Third Team All-American list by the National Field Hockey Coaches.
“Well, I was in the library when I found out so I couldn’t get all that excited,” said Scott. “But I was pretty thrilled and ecstatic. I hadn’t expected it at all. It’s thrilling I could be honored in such a way.”
Scott is the fourth player from the Wenham school to be named an All-American under head coach Cory Ward.
“It has been such an honor to coach Courtney this year. Her humility, hard work, faith and determination have all made our team better. We could not be more thankful to have her in our lives,” said Ward, who was actually announced as Courtney Ward at a home game this fall. “While the team thought that (announcement) was comical and laughed at the announcer, I didn’t mind. I am so thankful to be associated with one of the greatest forwards ever to play at Gordon College.”
Scott finished with 68 total points and was the main catalyst in Gordon’s offense, helping her squad to a 10-2 record in CCC play and its first league championship since 2001.
It was all made possible by her decision to leave Ursinus for what’s proved to be a far greener pastures at Gordon.
“I decided to transfer because I didn’t like the atmosphere or environment of my previous school. Playing field hockey there was more of a burden than a blessing,” explained Scott. “I looked at Christian schools and had a few friends that went to Gordon, so I came to visit and fell in love. So I gave it a shot — and haven’t fallen out of love since.”
Scott says she was immediately embraced by the Gordon field hockey family. She fit in well with the team both on and off the field and filled a role the Scots had desperately been missing: a goal scorer with confidence.
According to Ward, Scott’s confidence was contagious and improved the work ethic of the team overall.
“Courtney made our team better just by being herself and leading by example,” said Ward, who also spoke about Scott’s ability to find the back of the cage. “Scoring goals isn’t just about putting the ball in the back of the goal; it’s about how you position yourself and how you touch the ball. Anyone can take a shot, but the best goal scorers actually shoot the ball. Scoring is something you do in your mind before if happens on the field. Courtney is very talented and very prepared to score from any spot on the field.”
A broken foot during her sophomore season limited Scott’s effectiveness; she had trouble regaining the speed she had coming out of high school, but found it soon after transferring to Gordon. Ursinus plays on an extremely fast Astroturf surface, where Scott was able to develop her elite stick skills.
Now playing on the regular turf at Gordon, Scott’s stick skills are unmatched. Her ego, though, remains humble.
“Not only does she take coaching and direction extremely well, but she is also constantly questioning and discussing ways that we can make the team better,” said Ward. “In all things, it is never about Courtney. It’s about the team being successful and getting better every day.
“Her focus was always on the team. She won many accolades this year, but her best attribute is her humility.”