ORONO – It all seemed to happen before Tyra Gettleman even had a chance to wear all her new school clothes.
Two weeks into the fall sports season, Gettleman, a sophomore forward on Orono High’s varsity field hockey team, had played three games and scored 10 goals.
She finished the month with 16 goals in eight games, helping to get the Riots off to an 8-0 start. For her on-the-field exploits, Gettleman is Midweek’s Athlete of the Month for September.
The Riots finished the year at 11-2-1, nestled into the second spot in the final Heal Point Standings. Coach Sandie Girard’s team will open the postseason by hosting No. 7 Maranacook on Friday in an Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal game.
A successful season was expected of the Riots, although Gettleman’s hot start was another story.
“It was unexpected,” said Girard. “A lot of people didn’t realize how strong she would be on that left side. That started us out beautifully. As the season went on, people started to shift over to that side which opened up our right side.”
The soft-spoken Gettleman, who pronounces her first name Teer-ah, shrugged off her early season start with a shy smile.
“I wasn’t really expecting anything. I just played,” Gettleman said. “I’ve improved a lot from last year. I just want to do my best.”
Physically speaking, Gettleman is as imposing as a kitten. What she lacks in size, though, she makes up for with speed, having left many a defensive player wondering how she got by them so quickly.
“Speed is a lot of it,” Girard said. “She’s got the speed and her stickwork allows her to go right by people. She’s a real smart player and she’ll use her help behind her. Physically, she wasn’t that strong. She’s worked on that throughout the summer and she’s worked on her shot. She’s got a lot more power coming now.”
Gettleman’s love affair with the sport of field hockey began as a middle school student and has nutured itself ever since.
“I didn’t know much about it,” Gettleman said. “It sounded kind of cool. I tried it and loved it. It’s fast-paced. It involves a lot of skill. I don’t want to stop playing after high school. I want to keep playing, just play as long as I possibly can.”
Gettleman’s work ethic over the summer helped turn her from last year’s off-the-bench varsity player that scored five goals into this year’s key offensive threat.
She spent part of the summer at the White Mountain Sports Camp at Bates College in Lewiston. She also spent a part of the summer training with her teammates at Orono High.
“She’s more sure of herself this year,” said Amy Oliver, a senior co-captain for the Riots. “She’s good at pulling the ball away from people and then getting around them.”
And nobody is going to question Gettleman’s heart.
“I try hard all the time,” Gettleman said. “I never give up or let down. I don’t try to be the star of the tam. I try to be a part of the team.”
After getting off to the quick start, opposing defenses began marking Gettleman in the circle. Goals have been harder to come by, but Orono’s team play makes up for it.
“Everybody’s heard about me, so I just try to pass it back a lot more to the people in the middle that aren’t marked,” Gettleman said.
“In the circle, it’s been frustrating for her because they’re marking her more,” Girard said. “She’s picked up on it and just has to move around more. She’s still determined to get a goal.”
The Red Riots have had many great field hockey players come through its ranks over the years. Ellen Hall and Jen Pelleriti are two of the most recent.
This fleet-footed super soph is doing everything she needs to add her name to that same list, though.
“It’s kind of hard to follow in the footsteps of people like that,” said Tyra Gettelman, Midweek’s Athlete of the Month for September.