Unlike many high school students who flock to Florida this week, Kara Heck is spending her Easter Break in Uruguay.
The Eastern High School field hockey star is the lone New Jersey player on the United States U-17 Women's National Team that is touring in Uruguay. The sophomore is also our field hockey crazed state’s only representative when including the U-19 roster That is 36 players on the two squads.
“It is an honor,” Heck said with her typical modesty.
Heck, who attended a training camp March 9 to 11 in Winston-Salem, N.C., is making her first trip to South America.
“No, I’ve never been there before,” Heck said about Uruguay. “I’ve been to China and England.”
Heck has globe-trotted to Asia and Europe to play field hockey. She has been a member on younger aged-group U.S. teams and the elite WC Eagles, which won the U16 National Club Championship in mid-July. She is making many friends from around the country.
“There are girls that I play with on our club team that I know,” Heck said. “We should be strong.”
Uruguay is on the southeastern coast, located between Brazil and Argentina.
“I get to go to a new country and experience a different culture,” Heck said.
This past season, Heck was named first-team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. She was just one of four players from New Jersey selected after posting a memorable sophomore season with the Vikings.
She scored her 100th career goal, helped Eastern win another state championship and committed to play field hockey at Boston College.
Heck delivered three goals and one assist in the state championship 8-0 win over Bridgewater-Raritan. For the Vikings, it was the 19th straight state crown, including the last 13 against Bridgewater-Raritan. The 19-straight is the longest state title-winning streak in the country.
Eastern (24-1-1) lost in the finals of the Tournament of Champions to Oak Knoll, 2-1. The Vikings played to a 2-2- tie in mid-September at Oak Knoll.
In her frosh season, the Vikings lost in the T-of-C finals in overtime to West Essex. It was the first time since 2010 the Vikings didn’t win the T-of-C.
Heck has 114 career goals, including 55 goals as a freshman to lead the state and the Vikings to the Group 4 State Championship, and 48 assists.
“It keeps my career going,” she said about competing with the national team.
The U-17 team will play four games against Uruguay, starting on Friday and finishing on Tuesday, April 3, before returning the following day.
"We are excited for the tour to Uruguay," said Jarred Martin, U-17 coach. "The squad has been working hard during our training camps and improving on various aspects of the game. Now we will be able to put things together and see team USA against a great opponent. Uruguay has a strong hockey history with their skills and speed so it will be a fun series."
Heck also plays lacrosse for the Vikings, who opened their season without her Wednesday with a 11-5 win over Shawnee.
“I didn’t’ play basketball this year, too many conflicts,” Heck said.
Traveling around the world is certainly an enviable conflict. The experience is also shaping her in the classroom.
“I have been thinking but I haven’t come to a final decision,” Heck said about choosing a major at Boston College. “Yeah, I get to experience different things.”
Yes, going to Uruguay is much more interesting than a trip to Disney World.