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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Anna Willocks leaves behind storied career

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Anna Willocks charges up field during a home game. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20/THE HAWK

In the last four years, the St. Joe’s field hockey program has transformed from a .500 team, seemingly stuck in the middle of the pack, to one of the top teams in not only in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but in the country.

This movement has been led by the graduating senior class, specifically senior forward Anna Willocks, whose name pervades the St. Joe’s field hockey record book. Her name appears 68 times, to be exact, more than any player in St. Joe’s program history.

Willocks, a native of Palmerston North, New Zealand, has garnered just about every award and record imaginable during her career at St. Joe’s.

She is the program’s all-time leader in goals, assists and points as well as career starts and career games played, all while leading the team to three straight A-10 regular season titles, two straight A-10 tournament championships and the program’s highest ever national ranking. The team ended the 2018 season ranked number 10 in the country.  

“What she’s done to be able to drive a program forward is really amazing,” Head Coach Lynn Farquhar said. “She has to be one of the best at St. Joe’s, one of [two first team] All-Americans. More importantly those team stats during her years, along with her individual stats have also increased. She has set a foundation for future teams to now see if they can outdo her.”

Willocks also said she hopes her career will inspire future teams.

“I hope that I left a legacy, one that other athletes and the teams that follow can look up to and try to beat,” Willocks said.

Farquhar shares a connection with Willocks and this senior class, as they debuted on Hawk Hill the same year. This, Willocks said, and the success she has had alongside her two fellow seniors, Monica Tice and Joely Helder, overshadows any of her own individual accomplishments.

“It meant a lot, all to come in and get all those records,” Willocks said. “It was a goal that I had. But in the end I was more happy with how we did as a team and how we all worked together to accomplish the outcome of those Atlantic 10 titles. We stuck together and had fun doing it with each other and our teammates.”

Farquhar has witnessed firsthand how this class has grown over the years and said that coming in, she could see that Willocks had the potential to be special.

“As a freshman, she definitely came in and had this passion, and it was a contagious energy,” Farquhar said. “Each of [the seniors], their internal drive, their dependency and their intensity. They had to be a different kind of leader every year they came in, even as freshmen.”

Willocks’ leadership abilities impacted one first year student specifically, Tonya Botherway, the forward who led the team in goals this year, who is also from New Zealand. Botherway said Willocks was critical to her development.

“New Zealand is a different environment and different style of hockey, but Anna was really helpful in making that transition,” Botherway said. “The senior class is so special and it was great to play on a historic team as a freshman thanks to them.”

Willocks with her parents on Senior Day. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHEILDS ’22/THE HAWK

For Willocks, her relationship with the team and the university was reciprocal. It was a source of comfort being so far from her home.

“[St. Joe’s] has made me a better person all around,” Willocks said. “It taught me hard work, but is also taught me to appreciate my family, with them being a whole world away from mine. But at St. Joe’s, just all across the board as a person, I’ve improved during my time.”

Willocks plans to return home to work towards receiving a master’s degree in psychology. She currently volunteers her time and gains experience in psychology through her work at the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Research at St. Joe’s. According to Farquhar, this is a testament to Willocks as an even better person than player and someone who is a personification of a Jesuit university.

“It’s really neat for the students [at a Jesuit school] to understand not only how they can strive as individuals, but then bigger picture, how that can impact so many people around them, and I think Anna really represents that,” Farquhar said. “She’s not only had an impressive career statistically, but she’s also absorbed the mission of the institution. To have an athlete that is that driven and to hit your stats and your numbers, but also has such a deep care for people is a really rare mix. Anna has that.”

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