Sarah Lemieux never thought she would get another chance to play field hockey after having to transfer back home prior to her third year of college.
Lemieux, a Columbus native, was forced to leave Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania and come back to Dublin, Ohio, to be with her family. She never expected she would be lucky enough to wear her goalkeeper gear again, let alone be part of the Ohio State field hockey team.
“I had to come home for like financial, like family issues,” Lemieux said. “I didn’t even think I was going to get to play at all anymore.”
However, Lemieux’s passion for the game never faltered, and when she heard OSU needed a goalkeeper, she decided to reach out to the coaches.
“I didn’t even think I was going to get to play at all anymore and then I heard they needed a goalie, so I was like, ‘I guess I will email them,’ and I did, and they were like, ‘oh my God, like we really need a goalie,’” Lemieux said.
The junior was a big part of the team during her time at IUP, but was not sure what her playing time would look like when she came to Columbus. She felt confident in her knowledge of the sport, but was shocked to see how much of a difference just one division made.
“I was a starter. I played every game,” Lemieux said. “I had game experience, but it’s a completely different game. Like, it’s a lot quicker, like skill level’s a lot higher, so it’s different but it’s cool.”
Coach Anne Wilkinson said Lemieux is a “very mature player” and has already made huge contributions this season.
“She came in with some experience,” Wilkinson said. “She is confident, but she’s not over confident and I think she really plays an outstanding role on this team.”
When OSU upset then-No. 20 ranked New Hampshire in its second game of the season, Lemieux claimed the Big Ten Player of the Week award in what was her first career start. The game went into double overtime, ending in a shootout. Lemieux denied UNH three times to preserve the victory.
So far this season, Lemieux has tallied 28 saves, and Wilkinson said she has great talent as a goalkeeper and understands what is happening when the ball is coming her way.
“She can come out so well on the ball,” Wilkinson said. “Her timing is really very good, and she reads the play. She anticipates well, she can handle a scramble, she can handle a lot of people in front of her, in front of the net, she can get down and she can stay focused on the ball. She is able to fight and if she can get to it, she will.”
Wilkinson credits her goalkeeper’s strong mindset as a main proponent of her ability to keep her composure, even when things get rough.
“She is just so even-keel,” Wilkinson said. “Whether she has a bad game or a good game, I just think she is mentally very strong.”
Lemieux not only helps her teammates, but she has a passion for helping children as well. In the past, she has been a nanny to children and enjoys being part of their lives. She still keeps in contact with them and loves when she sees them in the stands at every home game.
Lemieux said she was also a nanny for two children with autism a few years ago and babysits a child who has Down syndrome regularly. Her work with children is something she looks to continue after she finishes at OSU.
“I am actually going into physical therapy to work with kids with special needs,” Lemieux said. “It was either occupational therapy or physical therapy. I don’t really know yet, but basically just working on everyday tasks in general with special needs kids is something I’ve always been interested in.”
While Lemieux loves to spend her time with children, she also enjoys the time she has spent with her teammates at OSU. She said the team’s enthusiasm about the game is great and fun to be around.
“Here it’s like everyone (gives) 100 percent like all the time and it’s a lot of fun to play with,” she said.
Lemieux and the Buckeyes head to East Lansing, Mich., Saturday to take on Michigan State. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.