The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Anna Willocks

Photo by Christy Selagy, M.A., ’17

Dominating the field 9,000 miles from home

Sophomore Anna Willocks is originally from New Zealand, but the story of how she wound up playing field hockey at Saint Joseph’s University is unique.

“It’s kind of a really back and forth story,” Willocks said. “My parents really hate me telling it. For a while, I really didn’t want to come here, and then I had a fight with my parents. I said when I was angry, ‘I’m going to go to America!’ and they were like, ‘Okay, you do that!’ Then I actually… came.”

Willocks re-emphasized that she’s on good terms with her parents now and has their full support.

“I think they’re really happy that I’m over here [because of] the guidance and coaching,” Willocks said. “At home we may be only trained twice a week for an hour at a time, but over here we’re given the opportunity to play every day nearly. It’s really helped being over here, so [my parents] happy about that.”

Currently, Willocks is second in the NCAA in goals per game, total goal, and total points, and fourth in points per game.

Photo by Christy Selagy, M.A., '17
Photo by Christy Selagy, M.A., ’17

“I kind of just went out on a whim and decided to come all the way over [to Saint Joseph’s] without visiting or anything. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Willocks said.

Willocks had the chance to return to New Zealand over the summer break, and she decided to visit home.

“It was great because I didn’t go home for a whole year, so it was a big adjustment, but once I got home it was really nice to be back,” Willocks said. “I was also really excited to be back [at St. Joe’s]. I was like, ‘OK, this is nice, but now it’s time to go back to America.’”

Her family, however, has yet to come see her play in America, but that will change soon. On Friday, Oct. 21 and Sunday, Oct. 23, the Hawks will play the University of Massachusetts and Hofstra University, and her parents will be in attendance.

As for the differences between life in New Zealand and life in America, according to Willocks, they are incredible.

“The cultures are just completely different,” Willocks said. “I have no idea how to explain it. People always ask me that, but I don’t really know what it is. The food is different. Everything is huge over here. I love McDonald’s. I know everyone hates McDonald’s, but I’ll go and order a small thing of ice cream and it’s like humongous. I mean I’m happy with it! But the difference is just crazy.”

The differences between the countries translate onto the field, as well.

“When I first came here, I was kind of shocked to realize that there were [so many differences],” she said. “Firstly, we train over here with like 200 amazing balls and at home we don’t have that. But I was kind of shocked at the physicality and just how strong everyone was. My first practice I just got tackled straight away and was like ‘Oh my gosh! What is happening?’ But I learned how to play with it and I think I’m probably a lot stronger and better for it as well.”

The differences in play style haven’t stopped her from dominating the league, though. Last season, Willocks became the first player in Atlantic 10 history to win both Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. She also led the conference in both goals (16) and points (36) last year. This season, her 14 goals and 32 points are the most in the A-10. For perspective, Emily McNamara of Virginia Commonwealth University is the next closest in both categories with five goals and 17 points.

Graphic created by Kaitlyn Patterson '20
Graphic created by Kaitlyn Patterson ’20

According to Willocks, she had no idea that she was even leading in those categories.

“It’s really cool, but I think it really comes down to the team thing,” Willocks said. “The backs pass the ball up and really they’re the ones setting me up to get the goals and to get the points and stuff, so it’s great to have such a great team behind me.”

Willocks relies on her team, but also relies on her own sense of humility.

“I don’t really know [what sets me apart],” she said. “There’s a quote that [the team and I] were talking about and it’s ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’ and I think I really try to live by it at least. I try to go through every wall and I don’t know if that’s really what sets me apart, but I’m trying. I guess that’s what’s getting me there.”

Head Coach Lynn Farquhar is impressed with the impact Willocks has on and off the field.

“I can’t say enough [about Willocks],” Farquhar said. “She is a pleasure to coach and I think she’s an amazing teammate. She works on and off the field. She works on the ball, off the ball. She’s just a quality person that I think anyone is lucky to play with her and I think she does so much. She recognizes the team system and she’s a quality player.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hawk News

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. Joseph's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hawk News

Comments (0)

All The Hawk News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *