During the Long Island Class A championship game, Garden City coach Diane Chapman, without prompt, lauded Katie Trombetta. The coach, looking on as a spectator, said with near certitude that the Sachem East junior will one day be a field hockey Olympian.
Another coach, upon hearing that Trombetta would quit basketball to focus even more on this sport, said it was grim news for future opponents.
And Katie says: “I’m thankful to have great coaches speak so highly of me. But there’s a whole lot I need to improve.”
Trombetta is Newsday’s Long Island Player of the Year, and had this been put to a snap vote, even among her peers, the result likely would have been close to unanimous.
The midfielder led Long Island with 40 points, including 25 goals, and guided the Flaming Arrows to a second consecutive state title. But, stats aside, Trombetta passed any eyeball test with flying colors. There isn’t a great deal of flash to her game, but consistently on display was guile, remarkable efficiency, impeccable technique and sheer dominance.
Had Trombetta played backer – as she did for a day in her team’s 1-0 win over Garden City in the regular season – defense alone would have made her an elite player, Sachem East coach Tina Moon said.
And Katie says: “It’s been a great year, but I know I haven’t reached my potential yet.”
Already, Trombetta’s athletic resume calls for extra hyphens. She is a two-time All-American, a two-time state champion, a three-time All-Long Islander, and a member of USA Field Hockey’s Under-17 team. Oh, and she verbally committed to Michigan in October.
“I could tell right away she’d be great,” Duke star Abby Beltrani said. Trombetta's field hockey career path could be likened to hers somewhat. Beltrani, a member of the Under-21 team, also was a state champion and All-American, and the 2010 Player of the Year… except she did it for Sachem East’s biggest rival.
“It’s weird coming from a Ward Melville kid,” Beltrani joked, “but Katie is awesome. Even as a freshman we had to watch out for her and you knew she’d only get better.”
Trombetta was the only New Yorker selected to the All-American first team, so the National Field Hockey Coaches Associaton essentially called her the state’s best player.
And Katie says: “I play on the best team, but I don’t think I’m the best.”
A show of modesty, but really, it’s more indicative of her drive. Here we see the components of greatness.
Talent helps, of course, and Trombetta was blessed with an athletic 5-9 frame. Her father, Chris, played lacrosse at Delaware and her mother, Patti, field hockey at Michigan. Her freshman sister, Cara, is also an All-Long Island selection. But all that is supplemented by a burning refusal to settle.
“I never want to plateau,” Katie Trombetta said. “I don’t want to disappoint myself or anyone… You can always get better, so why not put out the effort to be the best you can?”
She already has hired a personal trainer and will spend the winter working out in preparation for January tryouts with the junior national team.
Self-motivation is something she always possessed, her mother said. Katie is easygoing, “but if you push her buttons, she’ll take it up a notch,” Patti Trombetta said. “When she’s at that level, there’s no stopping her.”
It doesn't take much more than a simple challenge to ignite Trombetta's competitive fire, Moon said. “All I have to do is tell her she can’t do something or I’m better at it, and she’ll go harder to prove me wrong.”
But coming off a year in which she proved so much, and a season that yielded everything, what else can Trombetta do?
“She can be more assertive and aggressive on the field,” the coach said. “She could score a lot more goals.”
Moon insists there still is plenty of untapped potential and to that, Trombetta said, “If coach Moon says so, I believe it. I’ll do whatever it takes to get better.”
And the field hockey world says: Uh-oh!