Grupp easing through annual soccer to hockey transition

Two-sport athletes are not as common in college as they are in high school. Some student athletes can handle multiple sports in one collegiate career, as they often have the same guidelines; for example, track and field along with cross-country. However, this is not the same situation for senior Sarah Grupp.

Grupp knew she wanted to be a two-sport athlete in college. The Charlottesville, Virginia, native was a standout ice hockey and soccer player in high school and she could never choose between the two sports. Grupp said the biggest difference with high school, however, is more time management.

“When I finally have free time, I’m actually not doing as well in my classes,” Grupp said. “I know I have to get it done during the seasons.”

Before coming to Oswego State, she played hockey for the Reston Raiders, a travel hockey team from Reston, Virginia. She also played soccer for her alma mater, Western Albemarle.

In hockey, she stood out as a Female Athlete of the Year winner in high school, as well as being named an assistant captain at one point. Soccer is where she excelled, as she became first team all-district, all-conference and all-state her senior year. She was also the 2013 Conference 29 Player of the Year.

“I knew I wanted to play two sports, which is why I looked at a lot of [Div. III] schools,” Grupp said. “I could never just pick one.”

Women’s soccer head coach Brian McGrane and women’s hockey head coach Diane Dillon said that she is both a great athlete and student in the classroom. Dillon even mentioned her plans to become a dentist.

“As a teammate, I think that everybody would agree she’s one of the most positive kids,” McGrane said. “She’s just an all-around great person to have in the program.”

As a Laker, Grupp excelled on the soccer team as a midfielder. She was tied for the second most goals and points her freshman year, with a tie for the lead in both categories her sophomore season.

At 5-feet-10-inches tall and with a good ability to jump, Grupp mainly scored off the set pieces, according to McGrane. She was also the team’s main penalty kicker, scoring off those quite often during her freshman and sophomore years.

A big moment for Grupp was the lone goal in an upset victory over the then-No.8 SUNY Geneseo soccer team. They were the only team to defeat SUNY Geneseo and one of two shutouts the Knights faced. McGrane called her a big force during the game, between her goal and defense.

For her senior season, she was also named third team All-SUNYAC for her first nomination in her four years. She was given the accolade with two other teammates. Emma Geyer was named second team, and Chloe Lonergan named third.

“I think for three years, [Sarah’s] kind of gotten snubbed,” McGrane said. “I thought she was the best players as a freshman, and I thought that continued up including this year. It’s long overdue.”

While McGrane said he was fortunate enough to get Grupp first over ice hockey, Dillon said the hardest part is that they get Grupp later into the season, so that she does not double-dip with sports.

“I think the hardest part is the transition time,” Dillon said. “The later the soccer team goes into the season, it’s harder for her because the hockey team’s already gotten going. This year, she has been better than ever before.”

Grupp said the hardest part for her is transitioning between the speeds of each game. In soccer, she is playing near-complete games at a relaxed pace, compared to hockey with a much faster flow.

“It was an adjustment from getting back to the quickness of hockey to the slow, more methodical pace in soccer,” Grupp said. “It took me a little bit to get back and get my legs underneath me for hockey.”

As more of a defensive forward, Grupp has two goals and two assists in her career. She went pointless her junior year, partly due to injury. Dillon also noted her height has been able to give her an advantage on the ice.

“She covers a lot of ice because she’s so tall, and has a nice, long stick,” Dillon said. “She’s usually been on a defensive-type line. We find roles for her, and defensively is where she usually shines, but we’re hoping to get some more offense out of her.”

Grupp is hoping to defeat Plattsburgh State once again, with respect to her hockey goals as she finishes up her collegiate career. She is also hoping to show it is possible to compete in multiple sports in college and still be successful.

Grupp and the Lakers women’s ice hockey team will head to Plattsburgh State on Nov. 18 and 19 for a back-to-back weekend series, with a crucial conference matchup.

Photo: Taylor Woods | The Oswegonian