Marissa Siergiej is the Cornell Daily Sun’s Women’s Athlete of the Year for 2015-16
Although senior Marisa Siergiej has not been playing field hockey her whole life, you would never know from watching her in a game. The Cornell senior has numerous awards to her name, including first and second-team All-Ivy, All-American for the mideast region and the Class of ’91 Cup — awarded each year to a field hockey player with a promising future. However, the 5’10’’ athlete humbly attributes her success to her teammates.
“I have a lot of accolades to my name, but it’s funny because a lot of my recognition and a lot of my stats are really based on the fact that we have such a strong team,” Siergiej said. “All of my defensive stats came from being surrounded by three other girls who are great and a goalie who is awesome.”
Siergiej began playing field hockey when her mother took her to a fitness expo in sixth grade and signed her up for a team. Before that, her and her younger sister, freshman Isabel Siergiej, had been doing gymnastics. However, Siergiej’s mother wanted her to be able to play a sport at school.
“I went to the first practice and was upset in the car crying because I didn’t know anyone. But soon after, I fell in love and a few years later my little sister started [playing] too. My big sister and I started at the same time but we were in different levels.”
Siergiej would go on to have a successful high school field hockey career, lettering all four years and being named MVP for both her junior and senior year. She also ran track, but when it came time to make a decision about playing in college, Siergiej knew that she wanted to continue playing field hockey.
“I really knew that I wanted to keep athletics as part of my life,” she said. “I didn’t know per se which sport I wanted to do but I knew that I really wanted to be part of a team and be strategic with a team as opposed to an individual sport. I also just found field hockey a lot of fun. I knew I wanted to take it to the next level and continue playing for as long as I could.”
At Cornell, Siergiej has seen a lot of success, leading the team this year as one of the team’s co-captains. However, one of the highlights for Siergiej was getting to play for Cornell with her younger sister Isabel.
“We’ve always been really close and I think it’s awesome [that I got to play with her],” she said. “There are definitely things she can learn from me in terms of balancing school and balancing hockey, but there are also a lot of things that I learn from her. I love practicing with her. I’ve had a really great experience with her, I just wish it were longer. I hope I helped her settle in and now she can go on and make her own path and have her own Cornell experience.”
While Siergiej has been an anchor for the Red squad since her freshman year, she is also a process engineer, which forced her to learn very quickly how to balance being a varsity athlete and an Ivy League student. However, when considering options for life after Cornell, Siergiej was deciding between playing hockey at a professional level or taking on an engineering job.
“I was actually considering going to play after school as opposed to going to work,” she said. “I had the chance to play internationally my freshman summer when I played in a club in Australia. I really loved it because it the whole community revolved around hockey. In America it’s not a popular sport.”
However, Siergiej ultimately decided to move to Georgia next year in order to work at a paper making plant for Proctor and Gamble. Nonetheless, Siergiej plans to always make field hockey a part of her life in some way.
“I definitely want to keep field hockey in my life,” she said. “I find field hockey a great way to exercise and stay in shape. There’s a pickup league at Georgia Tech and I played there over the winter, so I know I’ll at least be doing pickup league. In the future, hopefully i’ll move to a region with a lot of hockey going on. I know I want to give back and coach younger kids.”