James Hoeg still can remember being awakened at 6 a.m. to a loud and unfamiliar "thumping" sound.
Hours earlier on that day in 2006, his 8-year-old daughter, Katie, had been given a new lacrosse stick. James knew his daughter couldn't wait to wake up and try it out on the backyard lacrosse wall, but 6 a.m.?
"She's not even a morning person," James said of his daughter, now a Mattituck junior. "She just absolutely couldn't wait."
That was just the beginning. As the years went on, the "thumping" only got louder. As a child, Katie tried just about every sport, but only through lacrosse did she find the perfect medium from which she could vent frustration, realize her creativity and channel her competitive nature.
"I think it just set a part of me free," she said.
Her younger siblings and cousins were inspired. Eventually, Katie and her cousin Audrey joined the Mattituck varsity lacrosse team as seventh-graders in 2011. They soon were joined by another Hoeg. And then another, and another.
There's Katie, now a 5-10 midfielder committed to North Carolina (whose women's lacrosse team ranks No. 3 in the coaches poll), and her two younger sisters, Riley (attack, eighth grade) and Mackenzie (midfield, seventh grade).
"Our house is a lot of fun. It gets pretty loud at times," Riley said. "A lot of holes in the wall."
Cousins Audrey, a 5-2 junior midfielder committed to play at College of William & Mary, and Claudia (goalie, eighth grade) make it five Hoegs on a roster of 23.
"It's definitely a really cool experience for us," Audrey said. "We've been playing with each other for so long, so we have a certain connection on the field. It's almost a telepathy thing."
Fresh off a 9-7 season and the first playoff appearance in the program's five-year varsity history, Mattituck, which combines with players from Southold and Greenport, has aspirations of making a run at a county title in 2015. But Katie and Audrey remember a time when it was hard to be optimistic about an upcoming season.
"When I was in seventh grade, we would lose games like 18-1. Getting killed every time out," Katie said.
But even back then, there was a silver lining.
"It was really nice to have each other because as such young players, Katie and I knew we'd have so many more years to grow the program and have stronger teams if we just kept with it," Audrey said.
After consecutive one-win seasons to start their varsity careers, Katie and Audrey helped guide Mattituck to five wins as freshmen before becoming All-County selections for the nine-win Tuckers last year.
Katie, who is aggressive on attack and a facilitator in transition, has led the Tuckers in scoring each season since joining the team. She was among Suffolk's leading scorers last season with 110 points (70 goals). Audrey, a threat in her own right, had 34 goals and 25 assists.
"It shows a lot that we were able to go from where we started to making the playoffs in just four years," Katie said. "It shows the younger kids that if we keep working hard, who knows how far we'll go?"
Those early years sharpened Mattituck and have even rubbed off on some of the younger players who didn't experience it directly.
"Katie's inspired me to follow in her footsteps and taught me that anything is possible if you want it bad enough," Riley said.
This year, the Tuckers want it bad. But there's no flying under the radar this time. The opposition knows to focus on Katie.
"Katie seems like a superstar, but she's the ultimate team player. Extremely humble," Mattituck coach Matt Maloney said. "She really has bought into the fact that it's not just about stats and individual stuff because this year we're hoping to make a county championship run. All the Hoegs have bought into it. Now it's about Mattituck."