Field Hockey, Lacrosse
Favorite athlete: Katie Bam
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Just all of the combined overtime games throughout my hockey career (most of which were night games and were extremely intense/fun!)
Most embarrassing/funniest moment competing in sports: I made the mistake one or two times of wearing turf shoes for a grass game, and well, I ended up falling/slipping quite a bit
Music on playlist: AJR, Austin French, fun.
Future plans: Something regarding architecture/sustainability
Favorite motto: "If someone says you can't, turn around and say 'watch me'"
One goal before turning 30: Find a consistent, well-paying job
Something people don't know about me: I can juggle!
By Mary Jane Souder
Alena Doll is one of those players coaches covet.
A captain of her field hockey team, the soft-spoken Wissahickon senior leads by example. She gets along with everyone and is welcome in any group and respected by teammates of every grade. Doll is low maintenance and coachable, gives 110 percent effort every time she steps on the field, and she does all of this without fanfare.
“You don’t have to be flashy to be a really awesome player,” Wissahickon coach Lucy Gil said. “That’s Alena. She’s a great kid. I would take 11 of her. Absolutely, in a minute.”
A fixture at left defensive back for the past three years, Doll has quietly excelled.
“If you think about it, playing on the left against people that are coming at you from the stick side – that’s one of the hardest positions to play,” Gil said. “Her stick is always on the ground, so no matter where you try to get around her, you really have to worry about her stick being on the ground. It’s never up.
“She’s always on her mark, she never jumps from one person to the next just because the ball goes there. We could count on her to always do her job.”
Field hockey is just one small piece of Doll’s life. While she excels on the hockey field, her resume off the field is even more impressive. The Wissahickon senior was part of her school’s gifted program her first three years of high school, opting out this year due in part to the pandemic and the task of completing college applications. Doll is enrolled in four AP classes, she is co-president of the Future Teachers of America Club and co-president of the German National Honor Society. She is also a member of the National Honor Society.
If that’s not enough, Doll has been a Girl Scout since she was in kindergarten and remains active, somehow finding time for the activities despite her busy schedule.
“My mom (Brenda Doll) was a Girl Scout, so she’s been the group leader since the beginning and still is today,” she said. “I think it’s definitely opened up a lot of new opportunities. It’s definitely different from the other kinds of activities – camping trips, crafts and a really large variety of things.
“The nine of us that are left in our troop are senior and junior year – it’s clear we’re all dedicated to it, and we’ve been sticking with it since the beginning of high school.”
If it seems as though sports would be an afterthought, that’s not the case. Doll says she can’t imagine high school without both field hockey and lacrosse.
“It’s definitely allowed me to get out of the house and stay active, and it gives me a break after school,” Doll said. “Sometimes you have a math test last period and maybe it didn’t go well. If I have to go home and do homework right away, I’m not in the right mindset. I’m still so focused on school and numbers.
“This year one of my days was entirely courses based on something with math, so to be able to go to the field after school and focus on something completely different really gave me that hard reset at the end of the day, and then I could go back home and stay focused a lot longer instead of being all tired out the whole time.”
Doll has been playing field hockey since she was in first grade. Her mother was her coach from the very first teams she was on with WRA field hockey and Wiss Lax all the way through middle school.
“She had played field hockey, lacrosse and basketball in both middle school and high school and then went to the University of Penn and played both field hockey and lacrosse there,” Doll said. “At first, it didn’t feel like much of a choice – this is what mom says I’m doing in the spring, but it definitely turned into me willingly going to try out for the school team, willingly continuing to play in high school even if at first freshman year I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to continue field hockey or not -- if I could balance it with a high school workload since I didn’t really know what it was going to be.
“It was my own choice to stick with it, keep it as part of my activities, and it definitely grew into something pretty quickly from second or third grade to something I knew I wanted to stick with - not just a requirement.”
Drawn into sports by the team aspect and being able to hang out with girls her age with similar interests, Doll developed her skills along the way.
“I think starting at that young age helped me to keep it consistent more through middle school and high school,” Doll said. “I would already have the stick skills established for both (sports) so I could focus more on how to look at the field, how to see what’s going on around me and not just having to focus on how do I dribble the ball down the field, how do I do a right pull.”
Doll caught the eye of Gil as a freshman and was a swing player that year.
“I don’t bring up a lot of freshmen,” Gil said. “There’s a couple that I see the potential in and I bring them up, and she was one of them.”
In a senior season that almost didn’t happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Doll’s Trojan squad played 17 games, finishing second to perennial SOL power Plymouth Whitemarsh in the conference standings and advancing to the second round of the District One 3A Tournament.
“It was definitely a relief that we were able to get through the entire season,” Doll said. “There was a whole lot of talk about Senior Night – should we have it our first game? Are we even going to have a first game?
“When the preseason got pushed back two weeks, it was very worrying. I’ve been working at this for the past three years – am I going to be able to finish it off how I’ve always wanted to? Being able to have that first game, it was like, ‘Okay, I think we’re in this.’
“Every single game it was like – don’t take it for granted, make sure we’re taking all the right precautions going into games, getting our temperature taken at practices. Our bleachers were definitely a lot more empty than previous years, but just still being able to go out on the field was definitely a really special part of my senior year.”
According to Gil, Doll was a natural choice for captain.
“She leads by example,” the Trojans’ coach said. “She runs hard, she trains hard. She is always sweet and kind and willing to teach somebody something.
“You can’t get by her on the field, but she’s not out there grabbing attention, making you look silly or anything like that. She’s doing her job. I like players you don’t have to worry about. She’s low maintenance. She really is. I don’t have to worry about her, I don’t have to tell her what to do. I know she’s going to go out there and give it everything she’s got.”
Doll brought a unique perspective to her position of leadership.
“My main friend group – almost none of them do any sort of sports,” she said. “They’re not on any of the teams that I play on, so it’s sort of always making new friends, and it’s just an entirely different group of people.
“I feel like because I don’t attach myself – these are my two best friends, they’re with me in field hockey, and I’m only going to be with them – it has pushed me to reach out and try to get along with everyone. Talk to people, make sure freshmen that are sitting on the sidelines or edges of practice aren’t feeling left out - that I’ll be willing to strike up a conversation with anyone who doesn’t have anyone else.”
As for her future, Doll - who would like to continue her hockey career at the club level - is looking into majoring in building sciences or sustainable architecture.
“I’ve narrowed my (college choices) down pretty far knowing the programs I’m looking for,” Doll said. “One of the top ones is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Some of my other top schools are Northeastern and the University of Hartford.”
And what is Doll’s dream job?
“I definitely want to be an architect that focuses on sustainability, (working for) one of the firms that designs eco friendly buildings or the landscape is one of their priorities,” she said.
Wherever Doll ends up, the Wissahickon senior’s future promises to be bright, and listening to her coach tell it – for reasons that go well beyond what she will contribute in the classroom and workplace.
“I don’t know how to describe her,” Gil said. “She’s super kind and super sweet, just a lovely person. There’s just something really special about her in a very quiet way though.”
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