Oct. 6, 2006
IOWA CITY, IA –
Sunday will be an emotional day for two Iowa field hockey seniors. Kara Zappone and Heather Schnepf will play their final home game for the black and gold against Northwestern. They’ve both had impressive careers and will be greatly missed by everyone in the program.
“I really appreciate what they bring to the table every day. I have a good relationship with each. I loved watching how they’ve grown and developed,” said Assistant Coach Lisa Cellucci.
Zappone was first introduced to field hockey when she was in middle school. Growing up in Queensbury, New York, Zappone had the opportunity to learn the game during intramurals at school. She fell in love with the game immediately.
She continued to improve in high school. She was a regional all-American and a two-time first team all-state selection as well as a two-time MVP of her team. In addition to excelling in field hockey, she also played basketball and softball.
When it came time to look at colleges, Zappone felt right at home in Iowa.
“Once I took a visit here, I loved it. I loved the city. I loved the school. I loved the coach. It was a good fit for me,” she said.
Zappone has had a successful career at Iowa. Last year she was awarded the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award as well as the Practice Player of the Year. Her coaches have noticed the improvements she has made and appreciate the efforts she has put forth every day.
“When we recruited Kara, she was a very good athlete and a very good softball player. We thought she’d be a role player for the team, which she was. She gets the most out of herself every day,” said Cellucci.
Even Zappone has noticed the improvements.
“Anyone can see the changes I’ve made between my freshman year and now. I’ve improved a lot,” she said.
Schnepf also started her field hockey career at a young age. Her mother was a referee for games near her hometown of Medford Lakes, New Jersey. Schnepf went with her mother and grew up watching the games and wanting to play herself.
Once in high school, Schnepf started receiving numerous awards. She was a first team all-American as a senior and a two-time first team all-south Jersey, all-Burlington County, all-Olympic Conference and all-Group 4 selection.
When Schnepf looked at Iowa, she knew it was a place she could be happy.
Schnepf has been a key player for the team all four years. After her sophomore year, she was named a second team all-Big Ten and a NFHCA West Regional All-America selection. Last year, she was a Dartfish/NFHCA second-team all-American, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, a first team all-Big Ten selection, a NFHCA West Regional all-America first team pick, a first-team selection by WomensFieldHockey.com and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.
While Schnepf has had a great career, it hasn’t always been easy. In spring practice before her sophomore year, she tore her ACL. She missed the first five games of the 2004 season, in which the team went 1-4. Even though it was difficult to sit out, she was able to make the best of it.
“It was extremely hard, especially since we weren’t winning at the time. But I learned a lot. It helped me in the long run, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said.
With just a few more games left to play, Zappone and Schnepf are enjoying it while looking to the future. Zappone plans to get her masters while Schnepf would like to play on the US National team as well as pursue a career in sports administration.
Even though they will be missed for their accomplishments on the field, Cellucci will also miss their overall outlook and the atmosphere they’ve brought to practice.
“They are two student-athletes who have total pride for UI and for UI field hockey. They have good heads on their shoulders,” she said.
Jennifer Bissell, Iowa Sports Information