Coval makes impact despite injury
For high school athletes, their senior season is everything. It’s their final go around with friends who they’ve grown up with and the opportunity to cement their place in a school’s athletic program.
For a two-sport athlete, the opportunity to play that last season in both sports is huge as they get to go out of their high school career with two separate sets of teammates.
For Mia Coval, her senior season for both field hockey and basketball was erased by a torn ACL last February.
Instead of sulking and simply sitting on the sidelines for both the fall and winter seasons, Coval made the best of a bad situation and has continued to show up at practice every day. S
he serves as a mentor for some of the younger girls, some of which are seeing increased playing time because of her injury.
“It was really upsetting, especially because this is my last year playing basketball,” said Coval, who will play field hockey at Villanova next fall. “I really enjoy being around the team and helping the young girls because we do really have a young team this year and so I come to help Mo [point guard Marissa Olenwine] and help her and support everyone.
“It was really different being on the sidelines, because I’ve played field hockey for four years and I’ve played basketball and I’ve never been hurt before, so it was definitely something different, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and about the game from watching.”
Nobody would have been surprised had Mia Coval made basketball her passion athletically. After all, her father, Scott had his number retired as a player at Whitehall High School and is in both the Whitehall and Lehigh University Halls of Fame, not to mention being the winningest men’s basketball coach at De Sales University.
Mia’s older sister, Keeley, is a sophomore on the Stevens University basketball team. Her younger brother, Nick, is a freshman at Parkland and played in the prestigious SCBL Fall League this past season.
For Mia Coval though, field hockey became her passion and she excelled early in her high school career. So much so that she caught the eye of college recruiters and will be able to extend her field hockey career at Villanova where she will major in communications.
“Field hockey was my goal all the way,” said Mia Coval. “I love basketball and of course, basketball is in my family, but I’ve always wanted to play field hockey and I’m looking forward to going to Villanova. It’s a beautiful campus, the team is really welcoming and the entire coaching staff is great, plus, it’s a great academic school.”
As for her role with the team, coach Ed Ohlson would have loved to have her on the court for her senior season, but he has found her to be able to help in situations in a way that a coach simply can’t when connecting with players.
“Mia is very level-headed and I think that sometimes when I get on the girls, she can tell them that it’s the right thing and she’s that sort of quieting presence,” said Ohlson. “The girls still lean on her a little bit and she’s been a tremendous leader even last year as a junior. She always worked hard on the court and when your best players are the hardest workers, that makes it a pretty easy job.”
The players have taken note of the work that Coval has put in as well.
Junior Lindsay Berger, who would have been a great compliment to Coval’s play on the court and given Parkland an even greater scoring presence and experience, likes what Coval has been able to give to the young players who were thrust into larger roles with the team.
“She’s always there at every practice,” said Berger. “She’s dedicated and she always helps and with younger players. We’ve needed that, especially with the guards. She has a presence in the gym and helps morally and spiritually.”
With accolades from players and her coach, Coval’s senior season has been a success, just not in the way she intended it to be. With her rehab winding down, she is cleared for sports activities, but not anything that could involve contact.
Soon, that final restriction will be lifted, but in talking with her doctor and her parents, she decided to sit out the full basketball season to be sure the injury is fully healed and then play club field hockey to prepare for the college season.