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One wore purple and gold. The other wore maroon and steel.
But, in a few days, they’ll both rep scarlet and gray at Ohio State, where they will begin a new chapter playing NCAA Division I field hockey in the Big 10 for the Buckeyes.
Boiling Springs’ Reagan Eickhoff and Mechanicsburg’s Cam Standish both scored the winning goals during the semis last season to lift their teams to the 2022 PIAA state championship games. The Bubblers and the ‘Cats ended the season winning gold for the first time in each of their respective program’s history.
When they look back at their high school careers, they admit it wasn’t easy. However, they said when you force yourself to rise above your challenges, putting in the work is worth the reward.
“I think the last couple of years, I was really excited to get to play in college,” Cam said. “I knew I had to keep working hard to get to a high level like Ohio State. I had to keep working even when people weren’t watching. Keeping my fitness up. Enjoying it, too.”
Cam doesn’t lament over having been a freshman during COVID-19 shutdowns. She said on her hardest days, she’d connect with a friend. They motivated each other to persevere.
“During COVID, everything shut down in her ninth-grade year, leading up to recruiting,” Cam’s mom Crystal said. “That was really challenging. Cam was doing skills, hitting shots, trying to find anything we could. Club camp that summer, none of the colleges had camps. We were like, what can we do and what can we find? Even a couple of scrimmages that would come up, some kids were able to get on high school fields in some locations. I think Cam really then moved ahead when the season came back in her sophomore year. You could tell that she did all that work. I think that’s what pushed her forward in skill development. After the dead period was over, we went to every college clinic we could. We went to Ohio State for the second time. We were like, we love the coaches, and we love the environment. We were looking to seize those opportunities. We were trying to find what we could find. Some folks were waiting for things to come back.”
The Standishes bought Cam a regulation sized goal and installed turf for her to practice.
“We put in this square piece of turf, measured it out like it would be the top of the circle,” Cam said. “We put in the goal that I got for Christmas one year, a regulation goal cage.”
She added, “I love that sound,” when the ball hits the backboard.
“The main thing for me now is leaving home and going five and a half hours away,” Cam said. “Fully being on my own. That’s the biggest change for me. But going with Reagan, I think it will definitely help. We already started to get to know each other.”
Cam’s work ethic wasn’t new, her dad Shawn said. Ever since she started playing field hockey, and as she gelled with her teammates in the Mechanicsburg recreational league, she commits her passion to the things she loves to do, he said.
“The infrastructure they have built around their program at Ohio State is amazing,” Shawn said. “I think she’s ready. But, once she gets there, everything’s in place to be successful on the field and off the field. That’s where my comfort lies. The school, the things that are there, those things aren’t going to change. The school, the coaches, and the players that are there, are all positive. It’s gonna be another fun ride for Cam.”
Mechanicsburg defeated Palmyra in the 2022 PIAA Class 2A Championship. It was the ‘Cats goal to pick up where they left off in 2021 and go further, Cam said. Ironically, Mechanicsburg was denied a state championship game in 2021 by Gwynedd Mercy’s goalie Lilly Sweeney. Sweeney is also attending Ohio State.
Cam played field hockey locally since fourth grade with the rest of the Class of 2023 field hockey graduates. She took another step in recent years, pushing herself beyond her comfort level. She decided to travel 90 minutes one way to Pottstown to play club for X-Calibur. She also enrolled in courses at Messiah her senior year of high school to prepare for college life.
“As far as Cam being ready for college, why she’s so ready, she’s done a good job of putting herself in uncomfortable situations,” Crystal said. “She doesn’t do the minimum. Cam is not afraid to make big leaps. She was at Central Penn [Field Hockey Club] for nine years. She was supported there and they helped with her development. You have to be ready to learn new things, learning to play with other kids, working with other coaches, or you could get in a lull of doing the same thing and doing the status quo. It’s really intense and really hard to play with different coaches and players. She’s done the extra things that not every kid is willing to do.”
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“I think realizing that anything really can happen, setting goals high, and working toward them, there’s always a way to achieve whatever you want,” Cam said. “And your dreams can come true.”
Reagan’s foundation is very similar. Although she faced health scares that Cam didn’t encounter, Reagan also learned how to find her way through her own personal mental maze.
“My sophomore year, I shut my team down because I got COVID,” Reagan said. “So that was a really, really big struggle. I cried a lot. I texted everybody and told them I was sorry. I felt terrible for the seniors. And, it was like, it was pretty rough for me because I felt like I just ruined everything. I took away the last field hockey season for the seniors ever. And, then my junior year, I missed three or four games because I was really sick and in the hospital. For me, I was kind of like, they thought I was just missing out because I was sick. But it was my body telling me to take a break. I just had to step back.”
She continued: “This year, I was super blessed. I didn’t have any medical issues or anything of that sort, but from the start, I had a hole in my heart. It’s a big deal for my family and I. I’m here for a purpose. And, before anything else, I give the glory to God. He brought us all here for a reason and put us all together. It feels, looking past the fact that it’s not just field hockey, after these four years, it’s what we’re learning overall. After the next four years, it’s over. And, what we learn from that and how we use that in our future life, that’s what matters.”
Reagan started a club for Morgan’s Message at Boiling Springs, her mom Heather said. Morgan’s Message pays homage to a student-athlete who died by suicide. The organization “strives to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health within the student-athlete community and equalize the treatment of physical and mental health in athletics.”
“Rea understands that she has a bit of anxiety and she wanted to get that in control before she went to college,” Heather said. “And, she’s done a really good job of finding outlets for that. She figured out that she was personally going to figure out how to overcome this and coming into the  season, Mike and I told Reagan all the time, field hockey is not your identity. It is not who you are. Field hockey just lets you magnify the gifts that you have as a human being. That could be your athleticism. It could be being a good teammate. We don’t want her to think all that I know is field hockey. We want her to know that this is just a game. It’s an important game, but it’s a game.”
When Reagan’s health was strong, she dug into her off-season training, as well.
“I was always stressing that I wasn’t doing enough,” she said. “I’d run and then I’d play field hockey. Then I thought, maybe I should do more. My perspective during COVID, there’s a purpose for this. And, we’re going to come out of it. It really affected me after. I was like super anxious to go play in front of people. I would really struggle with that. I would think, I can’t do this. They’re not going to like me, when I went to camps and clinics. They’re not going to want me. I ended up finding my place at Ohio State. I started finding ways to improve my mental health. I kind of just rolled with it. I kept feeding myself positive stuff. And, I was like, it’s all going to work out.”
Heather, Reagan, and her dad Mike laughed recalling Reagan’s whiffs at the 2021 MAX Field Hockey combine.
“I remember it so vividly,” Heather said. “It was the first combine MAX Field Hockey put on. And [Ohio State head coach] Jarred [Martin] ran the combine. I remember he was at a station where you had to do a reverse chip. And, she was like, she just couldn’t…mentally. She knew she was interested in Ohio State. And, of course, you want to perform in front of the person you want to be seen in front of the most. She missed every single shot. Any other day, she wouldn’t miss one. And, she did look at him and say, ‘I can do these, but for some reason, I just can’t right now.’”
Mike said he’s comforted by Martin’s coaching style.
“I think with Jarred, he said I’m not looking for the best,” Mike said. “I’m not looking for the most talented. I’m looking for the puzzle pieces that fit together to make a good team. And, I want good human beings. And, when he says that, he’s genuine. That’s no façade. That’s genuine. When we met him, he was our third visit, she knew. I looked at Heather, and I said, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to wear this Ohio State sweatshirt, but Heather said, you’re going to have to figure it out.”
Reagan said she’s just as excited to go to Ohio State with Cam as Cam is excited to go with her.
“I remember the day after practice and I opened up my Instagram, and I was like ‘oh my gosh, Cam just committed to Ohio State,” Reagan said. “It’s nice to have somebody to have the same understanding about something. We’re rooming together this summer. Great player. Gritty. It’s nice to look at her and know that she’s going to push me in college.”
Reagan’s heart has always been a concern. The Eickhoffs, though, find their strength in their beliefs.
“I think that Reagan and everything from us learning about her heart condition, we never wavered,” Mike said. “God is good. All the glory to God. Whatever was to be was to be. I think we always say she’s here for a reason. She’s a giver. She’s determined. And, her journey is just giving him all the glory. Through that journey, she’s touching all these lives. I think she’s going to thrive. I think she’s going to get out there with her already-made-family and she’s going to have a great future.”