Through the years, Alex Jamison has adapted to playing different positions on the field hockey field with great ease.
It began when Jamison first picked up a field hockey stick, which she believes to be around sixth grade. She had been a goalie in soccer. People told her soccer was not all that different from field hockey — it “isn't really true,” she said.
Her stint as a field hockey goalie was brief, as was, and still is, her time at any other position. She was shifted from goalie to forward to defense to midfield and cycled all the way through again. Each game was a mystery as to where she would be coming in as a substitute.
“I love it,” said Jamison, a former four-year starter for Quince Orchard High School and current a freshman at Tufts (Mass.) University. “I like that I feel like no matter where I play I can contribute.”
Many of her teammates began developing a knack for certain positions and that's where they would stay. That was not the case for Jamison.
“A lot of my friends said, 'I'm a forward.' And they didn't play anywhere else,” Jamison said. “I like playing all over. Some people love forward and hate defense. I like being able to play anywhere.”
Nobody appreciated that more than perhaps longtime area coach Jenna Ries, her longtime coach on the Jackals club team.
“Even to our own team she was totally underrated,” said Ries, who, with Jamison on the roster, led the Jackals to a pair of top 15 finishes in the country. “Not that other kids don't have skill sets, it's that hers is so intangible and so athletic.”
Her impact on Quince Orchard was immediate, just as it would be this fall with Tufts. As a freshman starter for the Cougars, Jamison helped take them to the state semifinals. Quince Orchard then reached the regional title game and the state semifinal round during the next two years.
With Tufts, her impact was one that will go down in school history. On Nov. 18, with 6 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the first half of the NCAA Division III championship game against Montclair State, Jamison found an open Hannah Park, another Maryland native, off a corner, and her teammate shot in a goal that gave Tufts a 2-1 lead.
Jamison's assist ultimately led Tufts to its first-ever national title.
“That second half was probably the slowest half of any sporting event of my entire life,” she said with a laugh. “I was just so proud of my team. By the end of the season we were so much better than we were at the beginning.”
Even on Tufts, Jamison's talents haven't been narrowed down to any specific position. She plays defense, but also is considered a midfielder — all the while playing forward on corners. After a few minutes of deliberating a name for her role, she seemed fine with labeling it as a defensive-minded midfielder.
“She's willing to do everything,” Ries said. “She wanted to do everything.”
Versatility aside, her intangibles are what have always struck Ries as Jamison's finest attribute.
“If a player elevates those around them, they can have a tremendous impact,” the Jackals coach said. “I believe everyone has that in them, but not everyone knows how to get it out. It's contagious. Alex is a legitimate role model. She's so likeable. People are attracted to the idea that she's so humble … and now she's a national champion.”
There always was one aspect of Jamison's career that was a little more certain than the rest: her desire to play somewhere in Boston. She became enamored with the school the moment she began her campus tour. And when it came time to meet the field hockey team, her college decision was set.
Jamison still has three years of playing eligibility left as a Jumbo and Ries already is labeling her as “a real success story.”
“She doesn't come across as a superstar athlete,” she said. “She holds that in her back pocket and uses it against you. Humility is a huge part in what she does.”
The former Junior Olympian credits academics as a major factor in her commitment to Tufts. At this point, it really shouldn't be too difficult to guess Jamison's major.
“Totally undecided,” she said.