“Seeing the Difference, Seeing the Intensity:” Bette Imhoff’s Experience as a Team Sport Athlete

By Rachael Jennings

Bette Imhoff admits that, because Dublin does not have a field hockey program, she was hesitant about enrolling. She was used to Field Hockey being her fall sport; and, more, it was her favorite. Now, Bette is a junior who is interested in the sciences and pursuing a career in medicine and is what she says she never expected before arriving, before giving up one of her sports for the sake of others: a leader on the courts and fields. She is a dedicated, intense, and talented athlete who has found new passions while bolstering her leadership qualities along the way.

“Before Dublin, Field Hockey was my favorite sport, and, I think, my best sport,” she says. “But I decided to let it go. Once I got into my fall sport at Dublin, I realized that playing soccer has the same mentality. It’s like a team effort with passes that matter every step of the game.”

Bette plays soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and lacrosse in the spring.

This year, along with wanting to improve academically, get to know all of the new students, and have a good year with her friends, she wants to “put [her]self out there for Lacrosse for college, go to camps and tournaments.”

“In the summer, I went to two lacrosse camps,” Bette explains. “One was at Bowdoin College and the other was at Bates College. The Bowdoin Camp was a much larger camp. It was middle school through high school, around two hundred people. I went there with Amani, our goalie.”

“The Bates camp,” alternatively, “was much smaller. It was, at most, twenty girls. We worked with the coaches and they gave us feedback. We had little meetings with the Head Coach at Bates about how to get out there and e-mail and talk to college coaches. It was really helpful.”

“I plan to reach out to coaches this year with help from what I learned there,” she adds.

Beyond what she learned as an individual who is starting to explore college programs, Bette is excited about what she and Amani will bring back to Dublin’s team.

“What will we bring back? We will bring back the fast pace and different drills that could improve our passing and goals,” she says.

“In general, I want our team to focus on defense this year because we usually just run up the field and score,” she says. “I want more passing, for us to see connections. I want the Attack to learn to play Defense.”

As for mastery of different lacrosse positions, Bette has had varied and intense experience. She started playing in eighth grade, at which point she played defense. When she came to Dublin, she played mid, and sophomore year, she played attack. At the training camp, she played defense.

“I don’t really have a favorite position,” she says. “They are totally different, and I like them equally. For defense, it’s when you intercept the ball. That’s a great feeling. For attack, it’s the feeling of getting or assisting a goal. Mid? It’s all of the above. It’s harder to score because you’re running the whole field. You want to pass off the ball as fast as possible.”

Bette, like many athletes at Dublin, has benefited from the experience of not just playing multiple positions, but of playing multiple sports. She recognizes how skills developed and strengthened in one arena translate in creative ways to others, too. More, she appreciates the way that her coaches, across the board, push her to be her best self: with her coaches’ tutelage, the drive and intensity only amplify for Bette.

“I have played basketball for the longest time, but I wasn’t pushed enough by my other coaches. So, I stayed at the same level for a long time,” she explains.

At Dublin, she has learned to push herself harder.

“When I say I push myself in sports, I mean that I’m working harder than I set the bar to be,” she elaborates. “Pushing myself is the same concept in each sport, but I push myself in different areas of the sport. For soccer, I push myself to work on my passing. For basketball, it’s for  my shot. For lacrosse, it’s being equally strong and comfortable with my right and left hand.”

Additionally, her coaches have encouraged her to take it to the next level.

“Here at Dublin, the coaches push me by encouraging me and convincing me that I am a leader. [Sophomore year], I wasn’t—or I didn’t really consider myself a leader—because I don’t really talk much, and I was an underclassmen. I thought that the seniors were the people you’d look up to.”

But two years of athletics at Dublin has changed that perspective for Bette: first, she has received regional recognition, and, second, she has started to recognize herself as a leader.

Bette with teammate Stella Davis and Coach McFall at NEPSAC All-Star Game.

Bette with teammate Stella Davis and Coach McFall at NEPSAC All-Star Game.

This winter brought exciting news for Bette and her athletic career. She was named both a NEPSAC All-Star for soccer and a Boston All-Star from The Boston Globe.

When she received the news that she was a NEPSAC All-Star, she was surprised.

“I had just woken up and I rolled over to check my phone, and I saw this email chain with Mr. Mcfall, my parents, and Mr.Bates. Before I read the email I was very nervous because I thought I was in trouble, but it went away quickly,” Bette notes.

With candor, she explains that she didn’t see herself as a “soccer player,” and, while she was humbled and “thought it was cool” that she received the award, she didn’t even want to play in the game at first.

“I didn’t want to play in the game because I felt like I wouldn’t be able to play at such a high level,” she says. “I played in the game because I wanted to represent Dublin.”

Bette ended up scoring the only goal in the game.

When Bette found out that she was a Boston Globe All-Star, she felt the same initial feelings: confusion and then joy.

She found out when Mr. McFall announced the news to the whole school in Morning Meeting, the school’s daily gathering.

“I immediately started feeling the same way as I did about the NEPSAC All-star game. I was very confused how I got a higher recognition and in the sport that I’m the worst in. I was extremely overjoyed and excited because I again get to represent Dublin, I was chosen from players from all the private schools in New England, and  I was going to be in The—fricking —Boston Globe. The recognition for both achievements meant a lot because seeing that other people believe in me and see something in me is very touching.”

Bette has begun to see and accept, however humbly, what others see in her.

Where she once would be far from even thinking of herself as a leader, she is now able to feel and name herself as one.

“I consider myself a leader now because I get a lot of feedback from my peers,” she says, albeit modestly. “They ask for advice or they just encourage me to be the best I can. Also, I see myself pushing myself. If I push myself to the hardest point, I see a difference in the team. They see my intensity, and they want to follow.”

Bette also notes that she has learned a great deal about leadership from her peers. She really looked up to an upperclassman lacrosse player last year, and, when she thinks about basketball, for instance, she thinks about her classmates.

“For basketball, our first game my sophomore year was against Winchendon. At first, they didn’t want to play against us because they didn’t think we were good enough. But, they showed up and we won. The intensity from Stella, [another sophomore], for example, made me push harder. The shouts and cheers and intensity from the sidelines also does that. It’s just amazing.”

The teamwork, too, bolsters her investment and drive to achieve.

“Teamwork at Dublin is one of my favorite parts about Dublin,” she says. “Teamwork and the kindness of my peers make a welcoming and supportive environment for people who want to try a new sport or anything.”

“Without teamwork,” she continues, “you are losing a great tool to push yourself. One of my favorite parts about being on a team is seeing our effortless connections and improvements over the course of season,” all of which, she notes, are enhanced by the team’s ability to work together, challenge, and support each other.

Last, Dublin’s community—one full of endurance and team athletes with all different passions but the common experience of being multisport athletes—makes its mark on her athletic performance.

“I really enjoy the sidelines because there are people there that I don’t usually hang out with. And they are there supporting. They make posters, they do body art, they make up cheers. They are so loud,” she smiles. “And that volume just makes you want to play harder.”