Had Carey Fetting-Smith spent her athletically formative years here in Baltimore, she might have become a top-notch lacrosse player. But as a middle schooler, she lived in northeastern Pennsylvania, where field hockey rules girls sports.
With natural athletic ability and an aptitude for maneuvering a hockey stick, Fetting-Smith, now a junior at Bryn Mawr, learned to love the game early.
"From the very beginning, I knew I was better at field hockey than anything else," said Fetting-Smith, 16. "When I was little, my brother [Conor, now 17] and I would try to figure out sports we could go to the Olympics for -- everything from badminton to soccer. When I started playing field hockey in sixth grade, I figured that would be my sport."
Since then, Fetting-Smith has become a nationally known talent.
Over the summer, she was selected for the U.S. Field Hockey Association's A Camp at Rutgers University -- the pool of about 50 players from which the national team and the Under-20 team will be chosen over Christmas break. Only six high school girls reached A Camp.
A four-year veteran of the USFHA's Olympic-development-style Futures Program, Fetting-Smith advanced to the Futures national tournament for the first time during the summer of 1998. From there, she went to the Junior Olympics and earned a spot on the Under-16 national team.
Over Easter break, she played in Holland with the Under-16 team. She also plays with the Washington Wolves club team and goes to the USFHA Field Hockey Festival each year with a team from northeastern Pennsylvania.
"She's had an advantage playing on different teams in different areas with different kids," said Bryn Mawr coach Jeanette Budzik. "She's getting a well-rounded view of field hockey from all levels."
The seeds for Fetting-Smith's success in field hockey were planted early -- maybe even from birth. Her mother, Georgia Smith, and her grandmother, Mary Louise Faber, both played field hockey at Bryn Mawr.
Smith also coached her daughter's middle school hockey team at Wyoming Seminary School in Kingston, Pa., near Wilkes-Barre.
"I don't know if [her interest in field hockey developed] because I love the sport and I was coaching at a time when Carey was starting out," said Smith.
"I was kind of fortunate because you don't ever want to favor your own kid and, the first year, I was coaching with somebody else.
"She saw that Carey had a special touch and tried to bring her onto the team as a sixth-grader, but sixth-grader weren't allowed on the team, so she just practiced with the team. In seventh grade, she was definitely a leader."
When she and her family moved back to Baltimore before her freshman year, Fetting-Smith fit perfectly into Bryn Mawr's midfield. Last fall, as a Mawrtians sophomore, she earned regional All-America honors, as well as second-team All-Metro and All-State selection.
She has demonstrated some of the best stickwork of any local high school player. Her mother describes her ability to maneuver the ball as, "almost cradling the ball like lacrosse, but with a hockey stick."
Budzik said: "Her stickwork is very quick, very precise and very developed and she's got a very powerful drive. She's physically strong when shooting on goal -- one of the strongest around."
Fetting-Smith also gets high marks for her teammwork and her sense of humor. Since the Mawrtians aim to hold their preseason No. 1 ranking throughout the season, she may need that sense of humor to keep things light.
"Our team goal is to win the whole thing," said Fetting-Smith, who has helped the Mawrtians win two straight independent schools titles, although they shared last year's with Roland Park. "We want to get a lot of shots on goal and just continue playing as a team and keeping our attitudes positive and having fun."
As for the future, Fetting-Smith looks forward to the challenge of A Camp. She is aiming for a spot on the national team, if not this year then soon after, and eventually, for a spot on the Olympic team, if the timing is right.
Budzik and Karen Klassner, who coached her at Wyoming Seminary, believe all of Fetting-Smith's goals are within her grasp.
"I don't think Carey realizes how good she is," said Klassner. "I've watched her in a lot of settings. Carey's very versatile and I've seen her develop into what I think is one of the top players in the country."