It was a short trip for Maya Gompper to go from Pioneer High School to the University of Michigan. But when it comes to field hockey, it’s already been a long journey for one of the top high school players in the state.
Gompper learned early on that playing sports at the next level is another level indeed and one that requires hard work, dedication and plenty of patience to deal with. She handled the transition last year as a freshman at U-M as well as she handles a stick.
“I got to play a little but it was more of a year of observing and learning how everything works at that level,” she said. “It was about working hard in practice and when given a chance go into the game, give it everything you had and just learn from all those experiences. We had such an incredible lineup last year and I learned so much practicing with them and watching them play. They played at such a high level.”
Going from one of the best players in the state in high school to “learning” and “practicing” took a little adjustment mentally.
“Yeah, there is an adjustment going from leading your team at Pioneer and being one of the best in Ann Arbor to coming into a program where everyone is at that level or higher,” she said. “You need to relearn your role and be a good teammate when you are no longer a captain or a top goal scorer. You need to learn to be a good teammate and not only learn your role but be very good at your role because it’s important.”
Every role on a team is important and if everyone does their job good things happen. And plenty of good things happened last year for the Michigan field hockey team.
“We had a super season last year,” she said. “We won the Big Ten, the Big Ten Tournament and went to the Final Four. It was a really good year for me to come in on. It was a very cohesive team and everyone really got a long both on and off the field. It was a great environment to come in and learn what Michigan field hockey is all about. It was just a great experience and I loved every second of it.”
The Wolverines lost to Maryland in the semifinals of the Final Four – a team they defeated in the regular season with a late goal in the second overtime. “They came out a little stronger and beat us in the Final Four but that just motivates us for this year,” Gompper said. “We want to get back there. It was a great experience to get there and play against such successful programs.”
Connecticut defeated Maryland 2-1 in the championship game last year to win its third title in the last five years. Maryland has won five National Championships since 2005. Michigan won a National Championship in 2001, beating Maryland in the final.
During her inaugural year with the Wolverines, Gompper appeared in six games in the midfield after making her collegiate debut against William & Mary Sept. 8, 2017. She’s getting more playing time and in turn more experience in this her sophomore season.
The No. 6-ranked Wolverines are coming off a 4-2 loss to Stanford on Saturday but had won eight of their previous nine games. Gompper has started five games at midfield this season for Big Blue.
“This season is going well,” she said. “We aren’t having quite the success we had last year but we are getting better. I’m playing more which is a good thing for me personally but a lot of people are playing and getting experience and that’s a good thing.”
Gompper, who graduated from Pioneer in 2017, was a two-time First Team Michigan All-State field hockey player for the Pioneers. She was a key member of the team’s three straight Michigan state titles (2014-2016) and was named Pioneer team MVP as a senior (2016) and served as team captain.
“What made us so successful was our connection,” she said. “We all really wanted it and wanted to get there together. It really was a total team effort at Pioneer. We were so positive and so excited to be a part of that program and that’s what pushed us every year. We also had a lot of talent and that helps.”
Gompper, the daughter of Dan and Karen Gompper, says the last state title was the most special of the three.
“They all meant a lot but senior year stands out the most,” she said. “I got to be a leader that year and the way we beat Dexter in the finals in overtime was just so special. It was a combination of all those things.”
Gompper also was selected to Harrow Sports/NFHCA High School All-West Region team (2016), named to the Maxx Field Hockey Top 100 Players list and selected to participate in the Stars and Stripes Elite Game.
Gompper also played club with Pinnacle Field Hockey (2012-17) and helped contribute to a Junior Premiere Outdoor League Region 9 championship in 2016. She was selected to National Futures Championship Region 9 Team and claimed a Regional Club Championship title; finished top 10 at the 2016 National Club Championships.
Gompper says having two quality club programs such as Pinnacle FH and Fer De Lance FH in town are big reasons why Pioneer, Huron and Dexter have been the elite high school programs in the state over the years.
“We have two really successful club programs and having a program like Michigan right here in Ann Arbor is another factor,” she said. “We have so many people who come back from Michigan who coach here in the area and I think that’s a big part of why the local high school teams have done so well.”
Gompper’s goal at Michigan is to win a National Championship during her career.
“Right now, I’m just taking it one step at a time,” she says. “I want to keep learning, working hard and also enjoy it. That’s a big part of it and I certainly still enjoy it. This is such a great time in my life and I’m so happy to be here and to be a part of this program. I just want to take it all in.”
Photos courtesy of the University of Michigan