PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Penn State Field Hockey Alumnus Lands Spot On The National Team

Amanda Dinunzio is a true product of Happy Valley.

Growing up in State College and staying local to play for the Penn State field hockey team, Dinunzio never really left Nittany Lion country. What started as fun playing with her sister in the backyard would take Dinunzio farther from home than she could ever imagine.

Dinunzio started playing field hockey for local teams around State College. However, State College is not known for being a field hockey hotbed. To succeed and gain recognition, athletes need to travel outside of central PA. And so she did, playing in tournaments as far as California while traveling to showcases all around the country to put her talent on display.

“I had to make sure on other weekends I was going to showcases or clinics where college coaches would be and sometimes go to other teams’ practices to receive better training or better coaching,” Dinunzio said. “Sometimes it was just for a day, traveling two or three hours and then coming back that night. I definitely made a lot of sacrifices.”

With the talent she had, it was known she’d be heading for a top Division I program. As certain as Dinunzio was about her future, playing in Happy Valley was far from a guarantee. “It was a dream of mine to go to Penn State, but there was a time when I thought I needed to get away,” Dinunzio said. “I couldn’t go to college in my hometown. So I did look into other schools, but it kind of came down to the last minute when I realized my heart was set on Penn State. I would compare every other school to here. I always knew I wanted to play for Penn State.”

Landing a spot on Penn State’s team made Dinunzio somewhat of an anomaly for State College field hockey. She believes, at the time, she was only the second player to go from State College High School to Penn State.

“It kind of gave me a sense of pride because a lot of the State College girls look up to me and because I didn’t come from a very competitive school,” Dinunzio said. “It wasn’t like we were state champions or anything like that. So it gave me confidence that I came from a small town and taught myself a lot. I worked hard and was still able to play with the best players in the country.”

During her time at Penn State, Dinunzio earned a slew of athletic and academic honors while serving as a leader on one of the most respected teams in the country. With her success came consistency, both individually and team-wide — reflected by four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament during her tenure.

Following four seasons with the Nittany Lions, Dinunzio earned a chance to try out with the U.S. National Field Hockey Team. Unfortunately, she was cut after the first round and was forced to make a decision. After consulting her coaches at Penn State, she realized she wasn’t quite ready to move on from the game.

Penn State assistant coach Stuart Smith and U.S. National Team assistant coach Janneke Schopman used their connections to set Dinunzio up with Dutch club HC Rotterdam in the fall of 2015. After a brief voluntary coaching stint, she departed for the Netherlands — the country that’s brought home the last two gold medals in Olympic women’s field hockey while becoming a destination for players looking to extend their careers.

“It’s one of the best clubs in the Netherlands, and for the Dutch, field hockey is their life,” Dinunzio said. “I wanted to keep playing and I knew I still needed something competitive because I’m so used to coming from a Division I college program. I didn’t just want to play pick up or play for fun. I still needed that competitive, structured system. That’s why this Rotterdam club was perfect for me.”

In Rotterdam, Dinunzio coaches youth teams within the club during the day before training with the main team. She was content; HC Rotterdam had become Dinunzio’s home, and playing for the National Team slowly took a backseat. But after Penn State head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss recommended her to the National Team coach, Dinunzio returned stateside for a second shot at U.S team trials in January.

Dinunzio was selected out of a pool of 25-30 players in attendance and was offered a year-long contract that will begin in September after the Rio Olympics. She plans to stay with HC Rotterdam through the rest of the season before moving to Lancaster, the home of U.S. Field Hockey.

Despite her new-found national success, the hard work is only beginning. Of the 25 or so players expected to be under contract following the Olympics, 16-18 will travel for competitions or test series, meaning Dinunzio will need to prove her worth in order to secure a spot. “That’s where it gets more cutthroat than college because you’re going to be working so hard — just as hard as everyone else,” Dinunzio said. “You may not get to go on a certain trip.”

Amanda Dinunzio’s come a long way since her early days traveling the country chasing her field hockey dream. But the dream hasn’t been fulfilled yet, and doesn’t end here. In fact, the story might only just be starting.

About the Author

Steve Connelly

Steve Connelly is a junior majoring in PR and an editor for Onward State. He is a proud native of the state of New Jersey, and yes, he is literal trash. He is a soccer fan, nap enthusiast, and chicken tender connoisseur. He tried to be a photographer once, but the only good thing that came out of it is a name for his future sports bar, The Blurry Zamboni. You can follow him on Twitter @slc2o (feel free to slide), email him at [email protected], or come say hi to him in his office, the Irving's basement.

Comments

More by Steve

Former Cal Swimmer Says She Emailed Sandy Barbour About Sexual Harassment Claims

Longtime Cal athletics employee Mohamed Muqtar was accused by seven former Golden Bears student-athletes of sexual violence and harassment dating back 20 years prior to his firing on May 11. An internal investigation from the school substantiated those claims.

Christian Hackenberg Detailed Development Frustration Before Trade To Raiders

Predicting Penn State’s 2018 Kickoff Times

Athletics

Former Cal Swimmer Says She Emailed Sandy Barbour About Sexual Harassment Claims

Longtime Cal athletics employee Mohamed Muqtar was accused by seven former Golden Bears student-athletes of sexual violence and harassment dating back 20 years prior to his firing on May 11. An internal investigation from the school substantiated those claims.

Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Evaluating Tony Carr’s Performance At The 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Student Life

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

State Theatre Recognized As A State College Historic Site

As it approaches the 80th anniversary of its opening, the State Theatre has been recognized as a State College historic site.

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend