Hamilton, Va. — Episcopal High School senior and Hamilton resident Eleanor Winants has made a commitment to continue her field hockey career at Wake Forest University beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year.
“I knew I wanted to play field hockey at a high Division I level,” the 5-foot-7 Winants said. “I also wanted a school that would prepare me for a career after college. Wake Forest fit both of those qualities for me.”
Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest is a small, private research university with less than 5,000 undergraduates students currently enrolled.
“I love the small class sizes at Wake, and when I talked to some alum and current students, they told me that the professors really take a personal interest in their students,” Winants said. “That is something I have grown to appreciate as a student at [Episcopal].”
Led by longtime head coach Jennifer Averill, the Division I Demon Deacons finished their 2017 season at 12-8, including a 3-3 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Coach Averill is not only passionate about field hockey, but she genuinely cares about her players,” Winants said. “She’s so inspiring and I think she will help me grow not only as a field hockey player, but as a person, too.”
Despite falling in the first round of the ACC then NCAA tournaments, Wake Forest finished the fall season ranked at No. 13 in the nation.
“I have always wanted to play Division I field hockey, and I have worked really hard to make it happen,” said Winants, who plans to play midfield or defense at Wake Forest. “I hope that my skills, competitive nature, dedication, willingness to learn and make mistakes and team-oriented mindset will help Wake remain successful in the near future.”
In order to compete at the DI level, Winants has trained with some of the nation’s best, including the Futures Program – a piece of the U.S. Olympic team’s developmental pipeline.
“Playing at this level has been a huge sacrifice for my family, and I am so grateful that they have given me this opportunity to reach my goals. I’m really excited to go to the next level,” said Winants, who plays club field hockey for Xcalibur. “Field hockey has pushed me both mentally and physically and has allowed me to grow into who I am today. The one thing I love most about field hockey, is that you can’t be perfect at it; it’s a sport that is always changing, and to be good at it you have to work for it.”
While Futures and Xcalibur helped Winants with her skill development, she credits Episcopal for honing her leadership skills.
“The one disadvantage of boarding school is that my teammates live all over the country, and we don’t have a chance to train together off season and in the summers,” Winants said. “My teammates often looked up to me for support and advice on the game of hockey, and this situation forced me to step up as a leader. Episcopal is full of strong bonds, and the field hockey team has been one of my constant support systems throughout my time here, and I will forever be grateful for this team.”