Bree Bednarski’s friends delivered the news.
Bednarski started receiving congratulatory calls and messages July 11, sending her to the USA Field Hockey website where she confirmed that, after working through several steps along the way, the Wyoming Area forward landed a spot on the Under-17 Junior National Squad.
Earlier performances in Futures regional and national tournaments earned Bednarski a spot at the Junior Olympics and one of 34 invitations for U-17 players to try to make the 24-player roster. Bednarski left the Junior National Camp happy with her performance and hopeful of a selection.
“I felt like I did real well there,” Bednarski said. “Then people started texting me and saying ‘Congratulations.’”
Although the Wyoming Valley Conference has a rich history on the various USA Field Hockey National Teams – Wyoming Seminary graduates Kelsey Kolojejchick and Kat Sharkey and Dallas graduate Paige Selenski played for Team USA at the World Cup this summer – Bednarski is the first to make it from Wyoming Area. She also will be the only active national team player in the conference this season as a junior with the Warriors.
Kolojejchick, Sharkey and Selenski were recently selected to remain with the Senior National Team. Crestwood graduate Anna Dessoye was named to the U-21 Junior National Team and recent Wyoming Valley West graduate Danielle Grega was named to the U-19 Junior National Team as part of last week’s announcements.
The speed that makes Bednarski a District 2 medalist as a sprinter in track season is a help, but coach Lunda Comiskey said Bednarski takes the game to another level.
“I think she’s recognized on the national stage more because she understands the changes of speed,” said Comiskey, a Wilkes University assistant who was Bednarski’s head coach at Wyoming Area the past two seasons and also coaches her on the Ka-Pow club team. “I think what’s harder in high school, a lot of the girls don’t really understand what it means to change speed and she just naturally does it with the ball and off the ball.”
After traveling for field hockey much of the offseason, Bednarski spent this week teaching the sport at a Wyoming Area clinic for elementary students interested in the game. Throughout the month, she has also been able to resume some informal workouts with her high school teammates.
Bednarski has been a big part of Wyoming Area’s continued rise in the sport in recent seasons. As a freshman, the Warriors knocked off Dallas in overtime in the playoffs and during her sophomore season, they took Wyoming Seminary to overtime in the closest the school has ever come to beating the eventual state champions.
“I feel now that I have learned so much more going to these camps and these tournaments that I will be able to help the team more so we can go further and beat some teams that have always beaten us,” said Bednarski, who was named by Pennsylvania coaches as an honorable mention all-state selection after leading Wyoming Area with eight goals and nine assists in 2013.
Bednarski, who played youth soccer at the time and still plays high school softball along with track in the spring, followed her older sister Drew into field hockey, going to an indoor introductory session at the school as a fifth-grader.
“I just really loved it since I started,” said Bednarski, who began traveling just a year later with Valley Styx club team.
Bednarski’s road to the national team started two years ago when she was selected for the first time to participate in USA Field Hockey’s Futures program, exposing her to more coaching and training opportunities.
“She goes 100 percent on anything that you do,” Comiskey said. “As a coach you can tell that she always pays attention and takes everything in. No matter what coach has coached her, she pays attention to every little detail.”
Comiskey said Bednarski has the ability to play elsewhere but her “nose for the cage” makes her a natural goal scorer, who is likely to remain as a forward as she continues progressing to higher levels of the sport.
Bednarski has not been informed yet of what her first training and competition will be as a national team member.
Dessoye was selected to the U-21 team for the second straight year. She played for Team USA in the Junior World Cup in Germany last year.
At Maryland, Dessoye led the team in scoring last season as a sophomore 13 goals and 16 assists.
Grega is headed to Old Dominion in the fall after scoring 22 goals and adding seven assists last season, her second straight as the leading scorer at Wyoming Valley West. She was named first-team Class AAA all-state.