While some athletes prefer to go with the flow, others carve out their own path.
Senior Ali Frederick definitely falls into the latter group.
The Lutheran South center midfielder, one of the top goal scorers in area prep field hockey this fall, has been a trailblazer in every sense of the word.
“She’s the first club player we’ve ever had,” said Lancers coach Cathy Wietfeldt, who is in her 37th season on the South sidelines. “I’ve had some strong players on past teams, but no one with the amount of field hockey Ali has played.”
Frederick, a starter since her freshman season, finished the season with 26 goals, which is second in the area. Only friend and Gateway club teammate Kate Barber of Lafayette (37) has more.
Frederick also had 11 assists for a total of 63 points, second only to Barber’s eye-popping 107.
But goals and assists are only a small part of what Frederick has brought to the Lancers, traditionally one of the area’s weakest field hockey programs.
During each of her four seasons – particularly her final two – Frederick has made every teammate around her better.
“Her influence on the team has been awesome,” Wietfeldt said. “Two of our other kids are now playing club, and others are talking about it. Her passion for the game has been contagious.”
Before she even stepped on the field for South, Frederick’s talent was hard to miss. She was noticed by Kelly Yates, director of the Gateway Field Hockey Club, and started playing with the club prior to her freshman season.
After two solid seasons with the Lancers, Frederick got serious enough about the sport to want to play at the next level. Her biggest improvement then came prior to her junior year when Frederick was selected to play on a Futures team during a regional in Virgina Beach.
Last season Frederick scored 16 goals and added six assists. She also was a third team all-metro selection. Wietfeldt said she has worked well with senior defensive center Nikki Wientge.
Frederick’s high level of play also started to have a positive effect on those around her. Wietfeldt said junior twins Kelley and Kelsey Fitzgerald are the latest Lancers to begin playing with a club team.
Before she got to South, Frederick had thought about playing for a more competitive team – South has had a history of field hockey struggles – but opted to remain a Lancer.
“If I went to Ursuline or somewhere else, I might have had a better career,” Frederick said. “But all of my friends went to South.
“I felt like the more positive I am and the harder I work, the harder my teammates work. I’ve learned how to deal with the differences on our team and it has been a good experience.”
Things were really clicking last Thursday, when Frederick scored four times and assisted on another goal in South’s 5-3 first-round playoff win over University City at Parkway South.
It ended up being the final victory Frederick would get to celebrate with the Lancers, who were blanked by No. 2 seed Nerinx Hall 4-0 in the second round of the Midwest Field Hockey tourney on Saturday. Frederick will continue her love of field hockey at Lindenwood University, where she recently made a verbal commitment.
“I think there were some Division I schools she could have played for,” Wietfeldt said. “But she went where she felt most comfortable.”
It could be quite some time before the Lancers stumble upon another player of Frederick’s ability.
“When a really strong player doesn’t have confidence in some of the others, they tend to try and do it all themselves,” Wietfeldt said. “Ali passed more this year and when she did that, it gave our other players more confidence.”