Schnepf Takes A Look Back

Dec. 18, 2006

IOWA CITY, IA – By: Jennifer Bissell

It was Heather Schnepf’s dream to become a first team all-American as a Hawkeye field hockey player. For four years, she worked on and off the field, trying to become a better player and help her team in any way possible. During her career, she became a dependable member of the team, earning many accolades and the respect of her coaches and teammates.

All that hard work paid off. This season, Schnepf earned first team all-America honors by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association and

“It’s huge. I think it’s something every Division I athlete, in particular Iowa field hockey players, strive for. It’s the top athletes, in your sport, in the country. It’s phenomenal. It’s something you can keep for the rest of your life. You’re a first team all-American,” said Head Coach Tracey Griesbaum.

“To be honest it’s by far one of the best feelings to know that other people recognize you and all your hard work. It’s something I have wanted since I stepped foot on this campus. My coaches and my teammates believed in me and pushed me every day in practice. Without them I wouldn’t be an all-American,” said Schnepf.

Schnepf entered Iowa as a first team all-American high school player from Medford Lakes, New Jersey. She made an immediate impact as a Hawkeye, playing in 17 games as a freshman in 2003. She led the team in defensive saves and was an alternate to the U.S. under-21 team.

After tearing her ACL during spring practice, Schnepf came on strong during her sophomore season. She was named second team all-Big Ten and an NFHCA West Regional all-American. She led the team, again, in defensive saves.

As a junior, in 2005, Schnepf came one step closer to accomplishing her dream. She was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous first team all-Big Ten selection, an NFHCA West Regional all-American, and a Dartfish/NFHCA all-American. She also led the team for a third straight year in defensive saves.

In her senior year, Schnepf again led the team. She became just the third player in Big Ten history to be named the Defensive Player of the Year in back to back years.

“It is crazy to think that I am considered one of the best defenders. I have worked so hard at being reliable in the backfield and someone this team can count on,” said Schnepf. “Once again it’s truly an honor to get this two years running, it’s hard to put into words how much it means to me.”

Schnepf was also a unanimous first team all-Big Ten selection and led the Hawkeyes for a fourth straight year in defensive saves. Her production on the field was enough to earn her first team all-America honors. She is the first Hawkeye in two years to win the award. Sarah Dawson and Barb Weinberg were named all-Americans in 2004.

Even though she didn’t accomplish everything she wanted to as a Hawkeye, such as win a National Championship, Schnepf is happy.

“I feel like I could have done a lot more this past year, but I also know I went out everyday and gave it all I had. So I am very happy with having this be my senior year and going out with a great season. But, there is always the what ifs…,” she said.

“I put everything I had out on the line and it paid off in the end; I improved tremendously as a person and a player here at Iowa.”

While her career as a Hawkeye is over, Schnepf would like to keep field hockey in her life. She hopes to play for the National Team and would someday like to coach at the collegiate level.

For Griesbaum, Schnepf graduating is bitter sweet. She’s proud of all she’s accomplished and has yet to do. At the same time, she’ll miss having her on the team.

“She’s someone I’ve always been able to turn to with an understanding and knowledge of what we’re trying to accomplish on the field. I don’t know who I am going to now when I need something changed on the field. It’s been Heather for two and almost three years,” she said.

Even though she has many things she wants to accomplish in her post-Hawkeye career, Schenpf will miss her time at Iowa.

“I will miss my teammates and coaches. My coaches saw something in me that not many other coaches in the country saw. They pushed me to be that person on and off the field. I will miss having them there day in and day out. Just thinking about how much I will miss this team and the girls brings tears to my eyes,” she said.