With so many schools recruiting Paige Laytos for their field hockey programs, it wouldn’t be surprising if she got a swelled head. Even 2005 NCAA Champion Maryland wanted her.
But one of the first qualities teammates mention when talking about the freshman is her humility.
“With Paige, mostly I just try to keep her head up, because I don’t think she realizes how incredibly talented she is,” said senior tri-captain Mary Fox, who Laytos considers her mentor and idol. “(I remind) her every day that’s she’s a very good field hockey player. She’s very modest. I’m trying to keep her a little bit above modest.”
Laytos has been everything Michigan coach Nancy Cox expected and more. The freshman has started all nine games this season – playing different positions without complaint or difficulty – and notched three assists.
Although she is new to the program, Laytos settled in with barely a hitch. Playing with elite field hockey players this summer – some from the national team – contributed to her success, acclimating her to the speed of higher-level games. It also helped that she played for a top team at Warwick High School in Pennsylvania.
“(Laytos) came from a high school program where (adaptability is) what it’s all about,” Cox said. “Whatever the team needs, that’s what (she’s) going to do. She’s had a good upbringing as a hockey player and as an athlete. She will be a great Michigan player because she’s willing to make the sacrifices to be a great Michigan player.”
Laytos fits in well with the team’s overall personality. She’s one of the fastest players on a team known for its excellent speed, and she constantly steals the ball away near the opposing goal, creating scoring opportunities. Her unrelenting intensity is evident both in practice and in games.
Laytos hasn’t scored her first collegiate goal, but that will undoubtedly come soon. And though Laytos considers scoring one of her weaknesses, she isn’t feeling the pressure that many freshmen do when given a starting role.
“I don’t think people look to depend on me (because I am a freshman), so I guess that’s why I don’t feel the pressure,” Laytos said. “I guess they don’t really expect you to start, so it’s more like a bonus.”
With Laytos, it’s all about the team, a fact that her fellow Wolverines appreciate.
“As a teammate, she’s very kind, generous and modest,” senior tri-captain Kara Lentz said. “She’s a great all-around skilled player. She’s relentless on the field. She’s one of the hardest workers we have on the field. She really goes out there and gives her full effort every time.”
Along with the rest of the program, Laytos is eagerly awaiting the Big Ten season, which begins this Friday.
On a steadily improving Michigan team, Laytos’s goal of making it to the field hockey Final Four (after, of course, winning the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles) seems within reach.
“I’m pumped because it’s only up from where we are right now,” Laytos said. “We’re getting progressively better and better each game, and it only gets better after this. It’s going to be exciting.”