“Rebuilding a team is challenging and takes a lot of effort, but ultimately it’s very rewarding,” said Annika Mannix, a tri-captain of New Canaan Country School’s varsity field hockey team. A ninth grader, Mannix was one of two student-athletes selected to offer reflections at the end-of-term Upper School sports assembly held in November.
“I have played on some phenomenal, undefeated teams in the past several years,” explained Mannix, a field hockey veteran. “When I realized that I would be one of only a few players returning to the 2019 squad, and that the majority of girls would be in the lower grades and possibly new to the varsity level, I had to think hard about how to approach it.”
“While the coaches placed a lot of emphasis on building or improving fundamental technical skills, my co-captains and I realized that many of the younger players were acting intimidated or approaching things too cautiously. We decided that the best thing we could do as team leaders was to let them know that they had permission to take risks; we had their backs and they should just go for it. We focused on becoming a tight team,” said Mannix.
The girls finished the season with a respectable 4-1-1 record, despite several rain cancellations.
“It's been really fun watching Annika develop into an accomplished athlete and leader. As a ninth grader, she has already had the opportunity to mentor younger players. It's a year of confidence and growth that really sets our student-athletes up for success at the next level,” said Head Coach Keri Kern who also serves as New Canaan Country School’s Director of Athletics.
Annika, a daughter of Lisa and Mathew Mannix of Wilton, will also serve as a captain of the varsity squash team this winter and plans to play lacrosse in the spring. Outside of school, she plays tennis competitively and skis for fun. Although she has not yet finalized her plans following graduation from the Pre-K through Grade 9 school in June, she does know that she will continue to be a student-athlete at the highest possible levels.
“NCCS is such a great place to try a new sport because of the encouraging environment that will always support you, no matter how new you are to a sport. Now, if I try something new, and even if I do fail, I am proud of myself for trying it,” said Mannix.
New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.