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Ketcham Star Violeta Francese Is One Of The Best Field Hockey Players In The State

By John Ziehl
Special to HVSR

Violeta Francese has been one of the best field hockey players in New York State for the last three years and has no plans on stopping.

Currently a star junior for Roy C. Ketcham High School and the AG Field Hockey club, she has led the Indians to three consecutive league championships, tallying 28 goals and 30 assists, in addition to countless honors and awards from her success at the national level playing with her club team.

Francese’s passion for field hockey started at a very young age. Growing up she played a variety of sports and whether it was martial arts, track, or soccer, she has always enjoyed the spirit of competition. She has been participating in field hockey clinics since the second grade, and the skill and aggressiveness that she showed from the beginning made her a natural.

“The atmosphere and energy of field hockey is unmatched,” she said. “Along with the great coaches I’ve been able to work with, and my amazing teammates, I couldn’t imagine playing another sport.”

While her mother was a soccer player and was hoping Violeta would also follow in her footsteps – dad Jim was a standout lineman for Our Lady of Lourdes football back in the day — Francese has found her knack playing field hockey and her parents have given countless support throughout.

While she has been a top field hockey player for some time, and is now thinking about the future, Francese still has committed to both Ketcham and her club as they are her top priority. During this upcoming season, her main focus is on becoming a better leader and captain.

“Violeta has meant so much to our program

over the last three years,” Ketcham coach Abigail Seward said. “Her passion and drive to win push her teammates to work even harder and become the best players they possibly can.”

Going forward, Francese is looking at some of the top schools in the nation for field hockey and plans to study physical therapy. With multiple offers dating back to the 8th grade, she has narrowed down her search to programs that will push her.

“With so many offers from prestigious programs, I am looking for a coaching staff most similar to that of my club team,” she said. “Finding a coach that will not be afraid to issue tough love when it is necessary, and yet still support me through tough times is what I am looking for.”

This coaching style has been ingrained on her by current club coach, Alex Ghoerghe. Gheorghe has been one of the driving motivators in helping her become the player she is today.

“He loves us so much and just wants us to reach the full potential he knows we can,” Francese said.

Said Gheorghe: “She will go on and continue to play some of the best field hockey in the country.”

With aspirations of one day playing for the U.S. National field hockey team, Francese has taken full advantage of every opportunity she could. Gheorghe spoke on the dedication she has shown to the club stating, “She plays three seasons a year, with 12-14 tournaments in each season.”

The long drives to each tournament, along with practices four times a week during each club season, is a testament to how committed she is. While she has already achieved great success, it was not without hardships along the way – hardships that have actually sparked her interest in physical therapy as a possible career option.

When Francese was a child, she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Since this was not noticed until the fifth grade, a brace would not help fix the problem. This led to her turning to physical therapy to resolve the issue. The great work from her therapists ensured that her scoliosis would not stop her from playing.

Learning stretches and other movements to remedy the issue, Francese believes her scoliosis has not impaired her in any way.

“Scoliosis is still something that I have to deal with, but it has not held me back,” she said. “It is because of the great work my therapists have done with helping me that inspires me to help others in the future.”

While her elite play on the field is a result of her constant training, skilled coaches, and

Hard-working teammates, ultimately Francese owes her successes to her friends and family for all the sacrifices they have made to get her where she is today. Violeta’s childhood best friend Adriana Liberti spoke on how dedicated Francese is.

“I was at her little sister’s first communion, but she wasn’t because she was playing field hockey,” Liberti said. “She has missed Thanksgiving with her family for the past four years to go to Florida and play for college coaches. She has unfortunately missed out on events with family and friends, but she knows that in the end it will all be worth it.”

This sentiment came true when Francese received her first college offer while on a family vacation. It was at that moment that she understood that all the hard work had finally paid off. Her family was so proud, the news even brought her grandfather to tears. This kind of impact is one of the driving factors for her success.

With all of the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season, Francese remains optimistic and hopeful that she and her teammates will get a season in, however truncated it might be.

“This season will be different and have a new vibe, but we have to make the best out of it,” she said.

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