Annie Hirshman ’24 (She/Her), Sports Writer
Sarah Minges’ freshman and sophomore seasons came to a devastating end when she tore her ACL at the beginning of her freshman spring season. Covid-19 had Davidson fall athletes play in the spring of 2021 and the fall of 2021. Her injury therefore took her out for both seasons, a huge loss to the Davidson defense. She then served in a reserve role, cheering her teammates on from the sidelines, supporting the program through various efforts, and working tirelessly to get back on the field. The 2022 season represented not just a new beginning for the Davidson College Field Hockey (DCFH) program, but a second chance for one of the best defensive backs Davidson has ever seen. Sarah, or “Minges” as her teammates all call her, is back and truly better than ever. While her decision making and precision on the ball is truly remarkable, it’s her qualities as a teammate that makes her stand out.
Recently, DCFH has welcomed two new assistant coaches, Hannah Fischer ‘18 and Maddie Warfel. Both have had the opportunity to work with Minges and help her grow as she steps back into a starting position. Fischer, noted Minges’ “incredible vision of the field.” She continued, asserting how “intensity doesn’t scare her, yet fuels her aggression and talent.” Warfel commented on her personality and how it is the embodiment of a true and thoughtful teammate: “Her witty humor accompanies her warm personality, the smile almost painted on her face is just the cherry on top.”
Hannah Merritt ‘26, who immediately began playing alongside Minges since arriving on campus, discusses her as both a teammate and a friend. Merritt comments on how she’s “always pushing me to be better,” yet also has created a “friendship that extends off the field.” Merritt notes how Minges is always there to help her comprehend the little things, explain strenuous drills, and even offer a shoulder to lean on.
Similarly, senior captain Natalie Naticchia explains how Minges’ style of play is one of note: “She is always poised and calm. Even in moments of chaos and pressure her consistency is truly admirable.” Naticchia, a forward, always looks to Minges when she needs to center herself on the field.
And as a forward myself, I can say that practicing against Minges day after day has made me and everyone around me that much stronger on the attacking side of the ball. She constantly pushes us and offers words of wisdom to improve our style of play.
While an injury of any kind is devastating, an ACL tear can truly be demoralizing and defeating. Minges did not let it affect her future though. “I mean obviously it was tough but it taught me a lot and prepared me for this junior season. I was able to observe how our team works and how crucial communication is as a defensive back. I was able to grasp a better understanding of the game and all its connecting pieces,” she said. Her injury gave her a new perspective on how important support and maintaining a positive outlook is, especially in times of struggle.
“Obviously, there is no right time to tear your ACL, but I’m happy it happened when it did. I was young and ignorant about what was to come. Now I have gained knowledge and experience and truly believe in the program I am playing for,” Minges explained. She then emphasized the old quote “you truly don’t know how much you appreciate something, until it’s ripped away from you.”
Sitting down with Minges, she did not comment on her goal that sent us into overtime against a ranked program, or the time she threw her body in order to make an astonishing defensive save, or the numerous times she has stopped top players from advancing into our defensive circle. Instead, she commented on the new perspective she gained, the chemistry our team possesses, the great mindset of the freshmen, and the pure excitement she has for our program’s future. Minges’ attitude and gratitude is one to note.
This is an embodiment of not just who she is as a player, but what every scholar athlete should aspire to be. Campbell Hickman ‘24, a midfielder as well as one of Minges’ roommates says it best. While Hickman comments on her ability as a player, she makes special note on how Minges is “someone I can count on in all realms of life.”
Defensive players often do not get as much credit and acclaim as the ones who put the ball in the back of the net. However, goals would not be scored, games would not be won, and championships would not occur without defense. More than anything though, Davidson Field Hockey and Davidson Athletics would not be the same without Minges.