Jazmin Petrantonio’s field hockey journey began when she was only five years old. Living in Argentina, she grew up in a family that has a heavy background in sports. Her dad, a former basketball player, is a basketball coach. Her older sister played sports and Petrantonio often followed her to practices to soak in the atmosphere.
Petrantonio has been playing field hockey for most of her life. However, she had no connection to the United States until one fateful day led her to where she currently is: Shippensburg University.
“I originally didn’t choose to come to Shippensburg — it wasn’t even in my plans to come to America to study,” Petrantonio said. “My first idea was to go to Europe and play field hockey there.”
However, her plans changed when she met Tara Zollinger, the head coach of Shippensburg University’s field hockey team. Zollinger was in Argentina scouting in an attempt to recruit student athletes to play at Shippensburg.
“I was watching a showcase and saw Jazmin play at that showcase,” Zollinger said. “And from there I was able to contact her and recruit her to come here [Shippensburg].”
Petrantonio accepted Zollinger’s offer. There was only one concern: She did not know where Shippensburg, or even Pennsylvania, was on a map.
Her only experience in the United States was going to Disney World a few times as a child. Making the adjustment to both the college life as well as living in the United States was daunting.
“It was very hard for me being surrounded by my family every single day,” Petrantonio said. “My mom is a housewife, so she is always at home. It was hard to do the transition of being at home with my mom and my sisters every day to being not by myself, but being independent and doing things in the past I haven’t done by myself.”
However, she did not let her struggles affect her on the field. Zollinger commended Petrantonio’s adjustment to living in the United States and playing field hockey for Shippensburg.
“If she did, it wasn’t too evident,” Zollinger said when asked if Petrantonio struggled to adjust. “From day one, she really embraced our culture and assimilated into the United States’ style of competitiveness and play as well as the whole college atmosphere. She really did a great job of assimilating and stayed true to herself but also, as a first-year student, would ask questions when she didn’t quite understand things.”
On the field, Petrantonio became a good distributor for the Raiders as she tried to fit in with the other players on the team. That season, the Raiders had a strong group of seniors who helped Petrantonio adjust to the United States and become the person and player she is today.
As a freshman, Petrantonio finished with 12 goals and a team-leading 12 assists. She was the third or fourth option for the Raiders in their penalty corner attacks.
She began to grow more as a scorer in each of the next two seasons. She exploded for 28 goals and six assists as a sophomore while helping the Raiders capture their second consecutive NCAA Division II National Championship.
Her role in the team’s penalty corner strategy grew throughout her sophomore season. She went from being the third or fourth option to being the first option. Zollinger credits two things for Petrantonio’s scoring explosion in 2018 and 2019: the combination of stepping up to fill the void left by the graduation of the team’s core players, and the increased role in penalty corners.
“It was a combination of personnel change, in her first year we had different people playing up front that she connected with in a different way, and her role on the attack penalty corners,” Zollinger said. “She’s our main corner hitter now, whereas her first year she was the second or third one we would go to. I think that has been what’s exploded her scoring. And each year she’s getting better and better — she’s improving her own game.”
Her explosion as a sophomore earned her a slew of awards, including the Longstreth/NFHCA National Player of the Year.
Teams made some adjustments to combat Petrantonio’s attacking style of play this season. As a result, her role on penalty corners has gone from being the “hitter” to being more of a passer and distributor.
“Our penalty corners are very similar to a power play, it’s seven people against four,” Petrantonio said. “My freshman year I was surrounded by an amazing group of players and I was just there supporting. Right now, I’m just more of a passer and distributor of those plays; I’m sometimes the hitter. Because coming to my third year and having such a season my sophomore year, some teams adjusted to it and now we have to find a way around.”
She got off to a slower start this season, but both she and the rest of the Raiders have made the necessary adjustments and now find themselves hosting a game in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) tournament on Tuesday. She finished the regular season with 29 goals and eight assists, both of which lead the team.
Petrantonio has built quite the field hockey resume at Shippensburg, and she still has one more year left. However, her post-collegiate plans do not include playing field hockey.
She is majoring in international management and wants to pursue a career in sports management in Argentina.
Whatever the case, she knows she will always have a place in history at SU as a member of two (and counting) national championship teams.