On a lacrosse exchange trip to Japan last summer, Sarah Oglesby discovered how easily sports can transcend a cultural gap.
"Everyone is out there just to play. You don't really have a language barrier," said Oglesby. "I've always heard that you can make friends everywhere through sports, and it's true. There's a bond just because you both love the sport so much."
For the St. Paul's senior, sports has been a common theme running through a range of interests -- from cultural diversity to art.
Last year, Oglesby won a school-wide art contest with a Japanese watercolor that now hangs over the fireplace at home, but her favorite artistic pastime is drawing athletic action from photographs.
Oglesby said she had never noticed that her love for sports tied everything so neatly together. Still, she wasn't surprised.
"I think sports can relate to everything," said Oglesby, who may someday combine all of those interests into a career in international business. "I just love being on a team. You can learn so much from being on a team that you can use in real life situations. What you learn on the field can help you everywhere."
A B+ student, Oglesby plans to major in French in college. Although she has been recruited more for lacrosse, she wants to continue playing both lacrosse and field hockey.
At St. Paul's, Oglesby has been a three-sport standout, earning All-Metro and All-State Player-To-Watch honors in field hockey and All-City/County selection in lacrosse. She also plays winter soccer and earned team MVP honors in all three sports last year.
In field hockey, Oglesby has provided the foundation for the area's most remarkable turnaround.
After a 3-8-2 season in 1994, the Gators improved to 11-1-3 and the runner-up spot in the Association of Independent Schools A Division tournament last fall. The Gators (8-0-5) head into this week's tournament as the A Division's only unbeaten team.
Second-year coach Eileen Alban credits Oglesby with contributing much more than her hockey skills to the Gators.
"The neat thing she's done," said Alban, "is she's gotten everybody really excited about hockey. She has a genuine love for the game that becomes contagious."
As team captain, Oglesby's challenge this fall has been to make the season unique rather than trying to relive last season's glory.
"Last year, we were just kind of gung-ho," said Oglesby. "We didn't know what was going to happen. We were excited to even be considered for the rankings.
"This year, we're No. 3. It's different. We have a different team. More is expected of us, but I don't think we feel pressure at all. I see last year as more of a confidence booster. It shows us we can do anything."
Oglesby's skills, honed in the Olympic-development style Futures Program, as well as elite summer camps, remain consistently high-caliber. Further, her overall game has improved to the point where she will play for Team Maryland at the U.S. Field Hockey Association's Hockey Festival in West Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 28-Dec. 1.
She has overcome a tendency to put a defensive spin on everything, hanging back in case the ball got past a teammate.
"I would always back up everybody, and it was hard for me to trust that they would make the play," Oglesby said. "Now that I've gained that trust, I think it really helps the team, and it helps me as a team player."
Pub Date: 11/03/96