Salata Shoots for the Stars

The Antioch field hockey team strives towards a successful season behind the leadership of senior Laila Salata.
Salata Shoots for the Stars

Senior Laila Salata has embarked on her final season of field hockey at Antioch Community High School. Salata has played field hockey at Antioch throughout all her three years. She has a positive impact on the team and it rubs off on her teammates. Her teammates know that even when they have a  bad practice or game, they can look to Salata for words of encouragement or even a good laugh. With a young team this year, having a player like Salata is very important to keep the team spirit up after losses or long practices. Every season is challenging and having a player who can make the long days go by quicker is very important to manufacture a successful season. 

“I have learned that Laila is a very hardworking player, and she never backs down to any challenges given to her,” senior teammate Macie Volkmar said. “She leads the team on and off the field and is always there to give a helping hand when needed.” 

Salata brings more skills to the field hockey team than just her impressive play. An essential game day ritual. Oftentimes, it is hard for the athletes to braid their own hair for the games; that is why Salata is the unofficial team hair braider. She does as many of the girl’s hairstyles before the games as she can. Whether on the bus to away games or in the stands while supporting JV, Salata uses her personal time before games to keep the tradition alive. Not only is this a great skill to have for the team, but it also helps the team jell and become closer. 

“My favorite part about playing field hockey with Laila is how she is always positive and can make anyone laugh,” Volkmar said. “We all get along really well and have a fun time. She is also the team hair braider.” 

Not only is Salata busy with sports like field hockey, but she also holds the 2023 title of Miss Antioch. She was recently elected Miss Antioch this summer and has a loaded schedule with all of her extracurricular activities. She has to figure out how to balance her time with all she is involved with at the high school and outside of it. One of Salata’s greatest passions is taking photos. Whether it be high school sporting events or special events that she gets outside of school, this is one of Salata’s hobbies that she does on top of everything else she is involved with. During the offseason field hockey, she prioritizes these things in her life, but she also stays in shape by going for runs and trying to get a field hockey stick in her hand occasionally to keep her ball skills sharp. 

“During the off-season, I take a lot of time to myself and rest my body from the non-stop practices of field hockey and cheer from July through January,” Salata said. “However, when the fall season starts to get closer, I make sure to go for runs to prepare myself for games and practices. I also try to pick up my stick during the off-season just to make sure I don’t lose any stick skills.” 

Head field hockey coach Terry Dewing feels that Salata’s strong suits on the field are her speed and her ability to score. Dewing also says that one of the ways she has seen Salata improve since first watching her is by finding a way to get into the right position to be able to score. This year’s team is young, and having a player like Salata, who shows the right habits on the field to these young players, will help the program’s future by enforcing these on the young athletes within the program. 

“Although I am not a captain, I still want to be a role model for the underclassmen and leave a mark on Antioch field hockey,” Salata said. “I think that if I continue to push the team to their full potential while still having fun, we could do great things together.” 

The team recently traveled to St. Louis for a Labor Day weekend tournament. They did not get the outcome they wanted in the tournament going 1-2, but the trip is more valuable than just wins and losses. The trip gives the team the ability to bond with one another. Salata and other seniors are able to get to know the underclassmen on the team on a deeper level. It allows them to bond over dinner, shopping and the long bus ride. This trip is something the field hockey team does every year and it always seems to bring them even closer than they were when they left.

“My favorite part is going to St. Louis with my team and trying to win back our title of the Gateway Classic championships,” junior teammate Kaitlin Baylen said. “But also just having fun with my teammates on the field or off.” 

With the season about halfway over, Salata looks to keep challenging her teammates as much as she can so they are ready for the state playoffs. No senior ever wants it to be their last time on the field, but it always comes eventually. Salata is doing everything in her control to help the team prepare for the upcoming challenges that the season will bring. She knows that if she can push the team when they are not as focused or when they are a little tired, they will be able to perform under the pressure of a big game. That could be the difference between the team making a deep playoff run or not. 

Watch out for all of the great things Salata and the Antioch field hockey team look to do for the rest of the 2023 season. 

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About the Contributor
James Sheehan
James Sheehan, Sports Digital Director
James Sheehan is a senior and this is his third year on staff. This year he took on the role of digital director. He enjoys being outdoors and hanging out with his friends in his free time.

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