We all have moments and people in our lives that we call life changing.
By Melanie Cane
We all have moments and people in our lives that we call life changing. For Rye Country Day senior and Rye resident Emily Duarte, her “moment” was in seventh grade and her “person” was her gym teacher, Pam Farber, who urged her to pursue field hockey instead of soccer. “Without her I would probably still be playing soccer. I am forever thankful for that and all the opportunities I have had as a result.”
Duarte has been a four-year starter and two-year captain on Rye Country Day’s field hockey team (and five-year starter on the lacrosse team), which has won the NYAIS championship three years in a row. She was selected by Coach Georgette Summers as the recipient of the 2013 Wildcat Award. In summer 2012 and 2013, Emily played in the Junior Olympic Games and is a 2015 Futures Elite Academy Selection. Lakeland Coach Sharon Sarsen nominated her based on her performance in this past summer’s National Futures Championship.
She is the first Rye Country Day School field hockey player to be recruited by Division 1 schools. She was recruited by most of the Ivy Leagues and New England Small College Athletic Conference schools. It is likely that she would have had her pick of colleges based on academics alone. She was also one of two sophomores who won the Christine Nelson Award and one of two juniors awarded the Harvard book award. To top it all off, Duarte is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist. She committed to Harvard at the beginning of her junior year because, “it offered me the perfect balance between academics and field hockey.”
What does it take to play field hockey at peak level? “Hard work, practice, and love of the game,” said Duarte. She plays it three seasons out of the year, and has been selected to play at national level events, both with her club team (FC United) and as an individual. Her club coach, Mandar Iqbal, former captain of the Men’s U.S. Olympic field hockey team, said he could tell the first time he saw Emily that she had a good Hockey IQ. “She seemed a cut above the rest. She was trying out for our indoor hockey team and although indoor hockey has a slightly different skill set than outdoors, Emily was able to fit in seamlessly.”
Coach Summers said, “Emily’s commitment, work ethic, and desire to learn the intricacies of the game.”
Her mom Deborah recounted a story about her from fourth grade. “Emily asked her father to help her work on her left- and right- handed lay ups one Sunday morning before a basketball game in mid-December — for two hours — it was 20 degrees outside! She came outside in her CYO uniform in the freezing cold and kept at it until she made ten consecutive lay ups from both sides.”
Duarte loves everything about field hockey: “the pace of the game, the strategy behind it, the fact that it does not revolve around the individual but rather the team. Most people do not realize the amount of time, practice, and personal sacrifice involved if you love the sport and want to play at the next level.
During the summer before my junior year (the recruiting summer) I had to play with a pulled hamstring, stitches, and a black eye after getting hit with a goalie stick, and through 100-degree weather in the middle of the heat wave. If I didn’t love the sport, I would not have survived!”
As a twin, it seems that Emily was born to be a team player. Her mother thinks being a twin has made her unselfish. “All her life they’ve been ‘the twins.’ They have gotten used to sharing the spotlight and the attention, both in the family and in school.” About her brother, Emily says, “He is always there for me, especially during the tough recruiting summer, and gives me good advice.”
Her Rye Country Day teammates elected her captain two years in a row and Coach Summers said, “Emily’s teammates feel welcome and important to the team. She has been an inspiration and tremendous role model to the younger players. ”
Coach Iqbal thinks Emily is a phenomenal captain and team player. “Emily doesn’t complain. She quietly and competitively does what the team needs her to do. She is having fun, which is the main reason for playing. She questions me about tactics, which keeps me on my toes.”
Duarte is also an active community member. She is the Head Tour Guide at Rye Country Day, a peer mentor for middle school students in both the social and athletic arenas, and she assists middle school Spanish teachers.
In her free time, she hangs out with her friends, reads, and goes to the movies. She likes reading mysteries, as well as historical fiction.
Her parents said, “We never pushed Emily. We just provide transportation, food, and moral support. We are in awe of her maturity, dedication, and kindness.”