Jordyn Isner’s days of being a big fish in a small field hockey pond are winding down.
A senior season in which she averaged more than two points per game for Palmer Ridge and developed into a more complete player earned her a second straight Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Year honor. Next, she’s headed to Div. II Slippery Rock University, outside of Pittsburgh.
“I’m really excited because I’m just ready for the next level,” Isner said. “I love Colorado but the field hockey isn’t as competitive as it is on the East Coast.
“I’m ready for this.”
A junior campaign in which she scored a state-best 23 goals propelled the Bears to a state title. Palmer Ridge graduated eight seniors and got a lot younger, and Isner was able to help the team through that transition. The Bears went 9-4-3 and made the state playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round by Colorado Academy.
Isner prepared herself for the next step as well. During the title year she was quick to take the shot, but this year she honed her playmaking abilities and her goals and assists evened out at 11. Her assist total tied her for first in the state.
“We threw her on defense sometimes. I think that helped her game,” Palmer Ridge coach Mallory Cuccio said. “I told her, ‘Yes, you’re a great goal scorer, but in college, if you have the option between sitting on the bench and playing defense, you’ve got to make the most of the opportunities given to (you).’”
Isner doesn’t have to cast off entirely. When Cuccio headed from Palmer Ridge to the East Coast to attend Liberty, there were few who had paved the way. Now, she and other Bears alumnae form a network the newcomers can use.
Kaili Simmons, who attended Palmer Ridge and then Slippery Rock, is able to answer questions. And Cuccio, who has known Isner since she was eight, is just a text away.
“I think she’ll always reach out to me,” she said. “She has those resources and I think she will probably use them if she has a little bit of a breakdown, which everyone does.”
Cuccio anticipates “a big shock” — one Isner expects, but can never really prepare for.
“It’s going to be an adjustment for her. I experienced the same thing,” Cuccio said. “I think she could come out and be a star on that team if she can overcome that.”
Isner said she’ll keep tabs on the progress of the Bears and the small, but growing, Springs field hockey community.
“She left a huge impact on his program,” Cuccio said.