Skyler Turiello always thought if she would ever have the opportunity to play a sport in college, it would be soccer. After all, it’s the sport she’s been playing the longest, having first taken the pitch at age 4.
So, when it came time to sign her letter of intent on Nov. 11 at her grandma’s house in Alameda, Turiello marveled at the fact she would be playing field hockey—and not soccer—in college. Despite having just started playing field hockey in her freshman year, Turiello has earned a scholarship to play at Maryville University, a Division II program in St. Louis.
An attacking center midfielder, Turiello called the events that led up to her signing as life changing, crediting several people for playing a role in the recruiting process. For a period of time, Turiello had it in her mind that she would simply focus on getting into a college with a strong nursing program.
However, a couple of her teammates’ dads—Wade Katsuyoshi and Jess Lopez—proved to be instrumental in the recruitment process. Katsuyoshi told Turiello to check out Maryville University because it had a nursing program and field hockey team. Lopez started recording several of the team’s games this season so players would have the opportunity to send video highlight clips to college coaches.
“Wade told me I didn’t have to give up the dream and Jess helped me get out there with game film, something I didn’t have because of the (abbreviated spring) Covid season,” she said.
Turiello emailed Maryville coach Maggie Young on Oct. 1, and things started moving fast from there because Turiello only had until Oct. 15 to get in all of her paperwork and complete the application process.
“It was very stressful, but I had so much support,” she said. “Everyone was telling me that I could do it and to not give up.”
Turiello said Young told her she liked Turiello’s high field hockey IQ, decision-making, and ability to maintain the possession and move the ball.
“She also said I was able to bring everyone together as a family in times of stress and calm everyone down,” Turiello said.
Turiello fell in love with the sport because of the finesse and skill aspects of moving off the ball, the constant movement and being able to handle the ball with deft stickwork.
Turiello said Christopher coach Dani Hemeon believed in her the moment she showed up to practice in her freshman year, when she was still learning the basics of the game.
“Coach Dani gave me a chance freshman year and saw something in me,” Turiello said. “That motivated me to continue and here I am going to Maryville.”
Turiello chose to sign her letter of intent at her grandma’s house because “she’s my biggest fan and comes to watch all my games,” Turiello said. A year after former CHS standout Jordan Anaya received an opportunity to play field hockey in college despite having played soccer most of her life, Turiello has done the same.
“I played soccer with Jordan and she always pushed me to work hard and be my best,” Turiello said. “She is just awesome.”
Turiello played a key role on Christopher’s greatest field hockey team in program history. The Cougars won an outright league championship and advanced to the Central Coast Section playoff semifinals for the first time.
Turiello’s younger sister, Cloey, scored the game-winning goal in overtime against St. Ignatius to vault the Cougars into the semifinals. Cloey sent a shot to the front and Skyler lifted her stick, making sure not to deflect it because she knew it would have an excellent chance of going in.
In the same way how ice hockey players station themselves in front of the opposing team’s goalie to block their line of sight or try for a deflection, Skyler most likely distracted the SI goalie ever so slightly as she lifted her stick to let the ball roll under it.
“Stepping in front of the goalie and watching my sister push the ball through and watching the ball go in, the excitement was such a great feeling,” she said. “Me and my sister ran to each other and hugged, and then we all ran to our goalie. That was the moment we’ll never forget.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.