La Jolla Athlete of the Week: Sabine Knott leads her field hockey team with full-field vision
As a starting center defender in field hockey, Sabine Knott keeps the entire field in her vision. She applies that broad focus to her future as well.
The 17-year-old La Jolla High School senior has played field hockey since her freshman year and was one of only three sophomores on the varsity team the following year.
Sabine played competitive soccer as a goalie for years but has focused solely on field hockey during the last two years of her high school career.
“The No. 1 thing” she loves about field hockey “has always been the team. Every single year we’re always super close, and I have amazing coaches,” Sabine said. “I’ve just kind of fallen in love with the community and the coaches and all the bonds I’ve made.”
“I’m obviously obsessed with the sport,” she added. “But I think the people [are] why I’m still in it.”
Sabine, the captain of the field hockey team, said “being [a former soccer] goalie and defender for field hockey and captain are all very similar in the way that I have to present myself and the position of being a role model for the team.”
On the field, “I’m always in the back, so I’m the person that sees the entire field, which was the same thing for soccer,” she said. “I learned how to position players and be a voice that’s helpful ... not in a commanding way, more just a gentle push.
“I have to be that person that knows more than the rest of the team in terms of what they see vs. what I see.”
“She doesn’t realize how good she is. She’s one of the top athletes I’ve ever coached.”
— Amanda Combs Warford
La Jolla High field hockey coach Amanda Combs Warford said Sabine’s leadership as center defender is largely due to her positive personality. “You have to be talkative; you have to be able to lead from the back,” Combs Warford said. "[Sabine] does that so well, and when she’s communicating to her team what needs to happen, everyone respects her.”
“Sabine will do anything for you and give anything to her teammates and be there for them,” Combs Warford added. “She has a lot on her plate her senior year. ... There might be times when she’s super stressed out about things that need to get done school-wise, but she still always makes it to practice, has a positive attitude, gets the team in a cheerful mood.”
Sabine said she gets her sense of gentle leadership from her parents, who have “always been the type of parent [that] want me to do everything that I love.”
She said her coaches are “so dedicated, and it’s really inspiring to see how much they love the sport. ... They make us love the sport.”
Though field hockey requires “a lot of conditioning, a lot of skill work ... every single day for up to five hours,” Sabine said “it’s a type of thing where once you start, you never want to stop.”
Combs Warford said Sabine is “one of the top defenders in San Diego ... and she’s just so humble. She doesn’t realize how good she is. She’s one of the top athletes I’ve ever coached.”
Through all those hours on the field, Sabine said “the No. 1 thing I’ve learned is to remain confident, not cocky, as my coaches always say.”
Sabine also is senior class president, and “I think a lot of the way I try to act at school definitely overlaps with how I act on the field [and] ... into a lot of things I do outside of school ... how I carry myself as a person,” she added. “I want to remain someone that’s very confident in who I am, the things that I love, but not in a way that is kind of a shoulder shrug to other people.”
Sabine said she’ll take that confidence to college but limit field hockey to her off time. “I’ve realized the struggles of being a college athlete and how it’s a job; I decided to focus on my academics and my extracurriculars.”
“Whichever school I choose, I will be playing on a club or recreational [field hockey] team just because of how much I love the sport,” she said. “I know I want to find a tight-knit group of people that I can connect with, and joining a team is the No. 1 way to do that.”
La Jolla Athlete of the Week features athletes from all sports in high school (La Jolla High, The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School) and other local youth sports. We’re looking not only for the stars of competition but also for student-athletes who set an example for teamwork, academic achievement and/or community involvement. Please email your nominations, and a way to reach your nominees, to Editor Rob Vardon at firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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