Covenant’s Abigail Shim takes a long shot during a game last season. Shim is one of the top returners for the Eagles this season.

The Covenant field hockey team reached the VISAA Division II state semifinals for the third straight season in 2018.

One of the key cogs in the Eagles’ postseason run was Abi Shim, who returns to help maintain the program’s run of success.

Shim said. “When Coach Alan [Good] stepped up as coach, his top goal was to grow the whole field hockey program at Covenant.

“To do that, his focus shifted from developing the best players on the team to making sure every person participating was growing, both as a player and a person.”

In her first varsity campaign, Shim scored seven goals and added a team-high 12 assists to rank among the top point producers on the squad. She was named Blue Ridge Conference player of the year and also was named to the all-tournament team. In addition, she was a first team all-state selection.

Shim acknowledged earning all of those postseason accolades as a freshman was a bit overwhelming.

“When I won conference player of the year, it was a huge honor, especially as a freshman on the team,” she said. “However, winning the award was because of people like the McGlothlins sending hits, giving me a lane down the middle, or Ivy Allen making a cross that set me up for a shot at the top of the circle. My success essentially stems from the support I have from my team and the passing game Coach Alan has been developing over the past few years.”

The road to field hockey success has been a whirlwind for Shim. She grew up playing soccer before deciding to dabble in field hockey like her older sister, Lizzy, who was an all-state performer at Covenant and now plays for Virginia.

“When I was younger, I mostly played soccer, but when I saw my sister playing field hockey, I wanted to try it, too,” she said. “I first started playing in the sixth grade, but soccer was still my main sport. But as I started to play more, I realized I actually really liked field hockey.”

Shim said it was her sister’s desire to succeed that really motivated her to take up the sport.

“The most important thing I learned from my sister is her work ethic,” Shim said. “I remember when she would wake up as the sun was rising, just to get a practice in before school. Seeing her determination during my time playing has been very inspiring.”

The two sisters are completely different players on the pitch. Lizzy, who was sidelined with injury for her entire freshman season at Virginia, can dominate a game on the back end.

Abi’s top focus is scoring goals.

“Although we both have the same goal, to win a game, our playing styles are very different,” Abi Shim said. “While I am more attack-minded, she is more focused on defense.”

This summer, Abi Shim represented Charlottesville in several high-profile national field hockey events. She was selected for the National Futures Championship regional team for the second year in a row. In addition, she was named to U16 Junior Olympic team and won a gold medal.

“Being at tournaments like NFC’s and JO’s is a different type of hockey in the best way possible,” Shim said. “The speed and skill of every player at the tournament are the best in each region, which creates amazing competition. That was by far the best hockey experience of my life.”

Outside of hockey, Shim likes to use her creative side to unwind, including drawing.

“My favorite thing to draw is probably portraits, because it takes a lot of detail to be able to make the picture look the way I would want it to,” she said. “Things like drawing or painting also make you see the world in a different way.”

Shim plans to expand her artistic side this school year by taking part in the school musical, ‘Seussical’.

“I really don’t have any particular part I want to play,” she said. “For the most part, I’m doing it so I can get a different experience from sports.”

On the field, Shim hopes her team can build off of last year’s success and make another run at a state championship.

“My captains, Ashley Ballard, Jenna DiGirolamo and Claire McCartney are doing an amazing job being leaders, on and off the field,” Shim said. “Their experience is obvious through their skill and game sense, but their character shows me how to be a good player and a good person.”

The Eagles lost several starters to graduation, which means younger players will need to emerge. Shim said there are many talented eighth and ninth graders on this year’s team and is intrigued to see them develop over the course of the season.

As for Shim, her main goal is to become a complete player.

“I would love to do everything I can to encourage the younger players and help them as much as I can,” she said. “To me, a successful season, of course includes winning states and conferences, but Coach Alan always tells us that having good character is the most important part of the game because having good character leads to a good work ethic, which leads to a good team.”

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