Marissa Spinazzola was given an opportunity she couldn’t refuse — to play both lacrosse and field hockey at Mercy College.
“When I first met with the lacrosse coach, she said she didn’t want to recruit a lot of people that were playing both sports, but I asked her if it was possible if I could play both and she told me it was okay, so I’m excited,” Spinazzola said. “I knew I didn’t want to leave field hockey behind because lacrosse wasn’t the only sport I had a love and passion for.”
The Warriors’ dual-threat first got her hands on a lacrosse stick when she was in first grade, and she said she knew it was the sport for her. While she also played basketball, Spinazzola said she knew she wanted to try her hand at field hockey, and made the middle school team in seventh grade. Come her junior year, she had to pick between basketball and field hockey, and said she thought continuing on with the latter was something that would benefit her in the long run.
“My mother thinks I’m better at field hockey,” the athlete said, laughing. “At first I didn’t know if I liked it because I didn’t know if hunching over my stick the whole time was going to bother me, but I stuck with it and found I had a passion for it.”
She was good at it, too, which is what caught the eye of Mercy field hockey coach Kayte Kinsley.
“The first time I saw her play I could tell how aggressive she was,” Kinsley said. “She was a hard worker, never quit on any play and she was all-around driven.”
Once she started a conversation with Spinazzola, the coach said she knew that much more that the athlete would be a strong fit for the program.
“Her personality is kind of contagious,” she said. “I think the first conversation I ever had with her I was hysterically laughing; she’s funny. She fits the whole mold of what we’re looking for in a player here at Mercy.”
Although originally playing midfield in both sports, the now-converted defender said she is excited about the role she plays on her teams.
“I love defense because I feel like you get so much action and you have to be a team player and communicate with one another to stop opponents from getting a goal,” she said. “I like that the defense works as a unit and no one is selfish. Playing defense helped me become the person I am.”
Spinazzola had the stick and personal skills that her high schools coaches were thrilled about having on their team.
“She doesn’t back down from anybody. She had a very good stick on the defensive end, you don’t have to worry about her throwing the ball away, “ Comsewogue girls’ lacrosse head coach James Fernandes said. “But more so, when I think about Marissa, I think about more than the lacrosse aspect, but about her as a human being. She’s a very good person. There’s not many kids like her that have the heart that she does.”
Fernandes said that what he noticed on and off the field was Spinazzola’s ability to become a phenomenal senior leader, taking the younger girls under her wing and helping them become comfortable on a varsity team with a diversified age.
That ability to be a leader earned her the Scott Hession Memorial Award, named after the former athletic director and boys’ basketball coach at Comsewogue, and given to a player that may not necessarily be the best player, but exemplifies what it is to be a leader.
“If there was one kid that touched my heart this year, it was her,” Fernandes said. “She was a great leader. There was no animosity or hatred; it was all love. And that’s what I’ll remember most about Marissa Spinazzola.”
Kinsley said she was looking for an immediate impact from Spinazzola.
“We are losing a couple of defenders, so with her skill level and her work ethic, we’re looking for her to come in right off the bat and be an impact player for us, and I believe that she is definitely going to be that for us,” she said. “I’m excited about her coming in. We’re looking forward to preseason.”
Spinazzola said she is looking forward to her new athletic careers at Mercy, and also hopes to be able to not only make an impact, but also learn from and grow with her new team.
“My goal is to step up, learn the game better than I already do, get playing time and be a unit with that team like I was at Comsewogue,” she said. “I learned from my coaches and tell myself that my stick doesn’t affect how I play, it’s the person behind the stick. When I think I’m having a bad day or something, it’s not my stick’s fault. I just know I need to focus harder to achieve my goals.”