Reagan Kunkle balances field hockey, the tape.

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Finding a time to talk with Reagan Kunkle about his daily schedule isn’t easy.

The West York eldest earned enough credits to be in school from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. only. But then she works at the Joe Street Cafe for three hours. Then two hours of field hockey practice. Then a short break for dinner before two hours of group practice.

She’s usually free for a bit once she gets home after 9 p.m.

It’s just a typical Wednesday.

“There are days when I wish I had time off and could just relax,” Kunkle said. “This is what my normality has always looked like. This is what makes me feel comfortable.

“It can be overwhelming. But in the long run, I know all this craziness will make me a better person.”

Kunkle is far from the only local teenager with a busy schedule. But she is not only busy, she excels in all areas. She verbally committed to accepting a field hockey scholarship to Division I Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. And the longtime trumpeter was chosen as the drum major in the marching band this fall.

She also plays field hockey year-round, lacrosse in the spring, and takes AP-level classes. She played basketball or swam in the winter.

Balancing these things hasn’t been easy. Not only did this test his time management skills, but it put pressure on him in multiple ways. Her group and athletic schedules inevitably clash on occasion, and she must prove she’s committed to both while sometimes prioritizing one event over another.

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She also felt judged as a musician for not living up to the typical image associated with star athletes.

As she enters her senior year of high school, Kunkle and her family believe that the benefits of her busy schedule have outweighed the hardships.

“Don’t get me wrong, she’s a typical teenager, and there were days when it was 6 a.m. in December that year, she swam, and that’s not a fun thing to do,” said said her mother, Mindy. “When you put everything she does into perspective, time management is a huge part of it.

“It’s being disciplined to do the things you have to do and not taking the easy way out all the time.”

She’s natural in some things…but not others.

Kunkle hesitated when asked the question, but was ultimately honest.

Yes, she was good at the trumpet from the start.

“My teachers told me I was natural,” she said shyly. “I definitely have to work on it more now than when I was younger, just to be able to keep improving and playing the tougher bits.

“But yes, I was a natural.”

Kunkle does not come from a family of musicians. She first tried flute, but switched to trumpet in fourth grade because she wanted something “that could be heard.”

His motivation with sport was different. The daughter of longtime local basketball coach Jim Kunkle, Reagan dabbled in football, hoop and lacrosse at a young age. Outside of her size shortcomings on the basketball court, she has always been a good athlete.

Field hockey offered a different challenge.

She didn’t know much about the sport until her dad was head coach of girls’ basketball at New Oxford from 2015 to 2017. The Colonials’ top player was Kaelyn Long, who was also the top player YAIAA field hockey. Long is now an assistant field hockey coach at Harvard after a stellar career at Bucknell.

“He was the person I admired the most,” said Kunkle, who was in middle school at the time. “I play field hockey because of her. My first field hockey stick was one of hers. I remember going to her house one night and she was teaching me the basics.

“And I really hated it.”

For once, Kunkle wasn’t good at something. After her first organized practice in seventh grade, she cried and told her father that she wanted to quit.

It was not an option in his house.

“If you commit, it’s up to you to keep it,” Mindy said. “If she said she wanted to try that, then go for it, but you’re not going to tell me in a few weeks that you’re done. You’re holding on because the team depends on you.”

After a little more time practicing — and watching some of Long’s games at Bucknell — Reagan realized she loved field hockey. Besides, she was pretty good at it.

A midfielder who played in almost every position at one point, Kunkle went from playing for a local club team to one based in Palmyra – a home for Pennsylvania field hockey.

She was recruited by Division I programs including Penn State, Liberty, James Madison and Bucknell, but also looked at smaller schools like East Stroudsburg, Shippensburg and York College. She ultimately chose Ball State because of the atmosphere around campus and her interest in the school’s sports media program. She wants to study sports marketing after considering nursing.

It turned out that her combination of extracurricular activities had helped her more than she thought.

“I asked the coach at Ball State why they were watching her. Because there’s a stigma where every parent thinks their kid is a D1 athlete,” his dad, Jim, said. “The coach said right away – her work ethic. ‘Look at everything she does, from training to performing in the band to being an honor student.’ She told me that they didn’t have to worry about these children because they already knew how to manage their time.

“When she was younger, other people would say to us, ‘Why are you putting her in so many things? Just let her be a kid.’ But we didn’t force her, we allowed her to do what she wanted.

find a balance

Mindy remembers helping Reagan zip up her band uniform moments before her daughter had to sprint onto the football field to join in for a pre-game performance.

She had finished a field hockey game in Bermudian Springs less than an hour before.

Balancing multiple activities required constant communication with his coaches and group directors. It helps that West York doesn’t have any field hockey games this season scheduled for Fridays ― when the marching band performs at football games. Music practices take place on Wednesdays and Fridays (a performance repeat) and field hockey has just two of its 17 games scheduled on Wednesdays.

“We’ve always looked at things as a competition or a performance that replaces a practice,” said West York band manager Rod Meckley. “We encourage students to plan ahead, and Reagan has always been good at communicating. If there is a conflict, I contact the coach. We take the student out of the middle because he is the one who decides to do a lot and it’s not always easy to juggle.”

“For me, the group comes first because it’s a school class, and Reagan is the leader of that class,” added West York field hockey coach Allie Rauhauser. “But it went pretty well with the schedules. The other day she came to the pitch a little late from work and apologized. I was like, ‘girl, you’re good. ‘ She was always coachable and there for the team.”

Kunkle said there were about 10 marching band members who also played fall sports, including two other field hockey players. But she’s not just in the band. She was chosen as the drum major after auditioning for it last spring.

The band leader, drum major is “a good musician who can lead by example, lead formations and put out fires before they happen”, according to Meckley.

Kunkle said one of his biggest responsibilities is making sure “everyone is having fun and feeling comfortable and accepted.”

She admitted that it was not always easy for her. She used to worry that people would laugh at her for being “a kid in the band”.

After talking with her family and other kids who were balancing music and sports, she learned to overcome that.

“You learn to be proud of yourself,” she said. “Before, I never told anyone that I was in a marching band and if people talked about it, I would push it away. I always felt like I was falling in the middle of different crowds. As I got older, I realized that was a great success.

“I’m really proud to be in the marching band and who I am.”

Kunkle tries to be a role model for other kids who worry about living by a certain image. Those who know her think she is well placed for this. Meckley said she was “quiet and introspective at first, but charming and someone who lights up the room when loaded”. Rauhauser called her “a role model for more than athletes.”

Kunkle said she recently received a piece of advice that she thinks all students should hear.

“You shouldn’t feel comfortable 100% of the time,” she said. “You need to get out of your comfort zone and stretch your abilities because in the long run it will make you a better person. If you feel conflicted, just try something. If it works, great, if not, it doesn’t. is not serious.

“You’re going to feel uncomfortable but that’s fine.”

Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, [email protected] or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.

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