After a tough loss earlier this season, the Penn State field hockey team talked frequently about getting its “mojo” back.
Sophomore midfielder Laura Gebhart had an idea to make this happen. For the team’s mixer later on that week, Laura went out and bought Clif “Mojo” trail mix bars for everyone on the team, handing them out and letting everyone know that they, in fact, could get their “mojo” back.
It’s moments like these that remind the Nittany Lions that Gebhart’s eternal optimism and leadership on the field are a big reason why they continue to find success.
“Laura is the definition of what a good teammate is,” defensive back Katie Andrews said. “You always hear her communicating and she does everything in the best interest of the team.”
“She’s always working above and beyond for her teammates… she remembers everyone’s birthday, sends us little pump-up cards for encouragement when we’re down. Just awesome things like that make her beyond a good teammate.”
Gebhart’s chemistry with her team has worked itself onto the field of play, where the sophomore plays a crucial center midfield role.
“Laura is just such a versatile player,” coach Charlene Morett said. “You definitely notice her during a game. She’s got the quickest stick skills and can put the balls in tight spots… but she’s also a very good defender. She can go in there and shave a ball every now and then and is key to our communication when we try and press.”
Gebhart won Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season while starting all 22 contests for the Lions. She finished tied for second on the team in assists with 12, and also scored six goals on the year.
This season has been even better. Through 14 games, Gebhart is currently tied for the team lead in assists, with 10, and has almost equaled her goal total from last season, scoring five so far.
“She just sees the game so well,” fellow midfielder Lauren Purvis said. “She just has this really good game sense…and as a center midfielder she’s perfect at either dropping back or going up the field when she has too.”
Gebhart comes from a deep field hockey background. Her mother, Crystal, played field hockey for Lock Haven University and her older sister, Kristin, played field hockey for American University in Washington D.C.
Prior to arriving at Penn State, the sophomore has competed on the U-21 U.S. National squad, as well as the U.S. Developmental squad. She has traveled to participate in field hockey tournaments around the world, including Holland and both North and South America as part of the U17 Pan Am squad.
To her credit, the sophomore remains humble in the face of her success. She still feels she has a lot to improve upon on the field.
“I feel like I have a tendency to ball watch and get out of position sometimes,” Gebhart said. “And I’m always working on scanning the field and having good vision, making sure I know what’s in front of me.”
With two years remaining at Penn State, Gebhart could be poised to have a solid career for the Lions as they continue their quest to find the program’s first national championship.
“She’s seen the game played at a high level with her experiences,” Morett said. “And it allows her to guide her teammates on the field.”