Emily Hickman's field hockey days may be coming to an end.
Even though the Bryn Mawr midfielder ranks among the metro area's best high school players, she may have to forgo field hockey to concentrate on lacrosse in college.
It's a choice Hickman would rather not have to make.
"I'd really like to play both, but there is a possibility I might have to give up hockey," said Hickman.
Some of the big-time Division I programs recruiting her for lacrosse require athletes to play fall ball.
"If I do, I'll just put more energy into lacrosse. The hardest thing is realizing this could be the last time I play hockey," she said.
Mawrtians coach Jeannette Budzik said Hickman has plenty of potential to play top-level college field hockey. The only returning All-Metro first-teamer in the Association of Independent Schools, Hickman remains the cornerstone of the No. 5 Mawrtians' 3-0 team, which aims to improve on last year's runner-up finish in the A Division tournament.
"It would be very sad if she had to give it up, because she's so talented," said Budzik, who has coached Hickman on varsity all four years. "Playing at the Division I level with people who are as strong as her and even stronger, she could take her game to a whole new level. I hope she gets that chance, but I know she has to do what's right for her."
Hickman has planned to play college hockey and/or lacrosse since 10th grade, and she has done everything she could to catch the attention of as many college coaches as possible. Every summer has been jammed with field hockey and lacrosse camps.
"Since freshman year, I've tried to go to eight or nine camps [each year]," said Hickman. "I've tried to get as much exposure as I can, and that's helped a lot. Without that, I wouldn't be in this position."
All that extra work also has helped boost her skills and confidence to the point that Hickman always looks smooth, aggressive and in control on the field. An All-Baltimore City/County pick in lacrosse, Hickman plays center midfield in both sports. She controls the transition and she has a great eye for seeing the open player.
"Ever since she was younger, even in middle school, she would see the open person and pass," said Budzik. "She's humble as a person and humble as a player and I think that has helped her. As she's gotten older and developed as an athlete, her passing ability and her ability to see the open spaces have been phenomenal. She just knows what to do."
Hickman began developing that game sense in Towson Recreation Council basketball early in elementary school. She added lacrosse in the third grade and hockey in the sixth, but Hickman said her basketball background laid the foundation for her success in the field sports.
"Game sense has helped me in every sport that I've ever played," said Hickman, who led the Mawrtians basketball team in scoring last winter. "I had great basketball coaches when I was little, and that helped me so much on the lacrosse and hockey field, because all three games are directly related. All the defenses are pretty much the same."
That ability to listen, Budzik said, is an asset as great as Hickman's game sense, her natural athleticism or her stick skills.
"She's coachable and she's willing to try new things, and I just really respect that," said Budzik.