Before she became a field hockey player, Madison Hilton was a fan, with a personal rooting interest.
Hilton was a young girl when she attended Greenport/Southold high school games to watch her older sister, Victoria, play for the Clippers. Madison has long since become a participant, thanks in part to her roots as a spectator.
“I came to every game,” the younger Hilton recalled. “I actually have a stick that’s probably like a foot tall from when I made my parents buy for me so I could play with her. I would watch [games] and I’d be like, ‘I want to do that.’ ”
Madison, a junior, has followed in the path of Victoria, who is four years older and attends SUNY/New Paltz. “I’ve always just wanted to be like my sister,” she said.
The same year that Victoria graduated from Greenport High School as an All-Division player, Madison joined the varsity team as a freshman. She has been making her own way since, starting in the midfield along with Ale Cardi and Toni Esposito.
Like her sister, Madison learned to play clarinet. Like her sister, Madison learned to play field hockey aggressively. Not one to shy away from mixing it up, she is so aggressive sometimes that coach Rebecca Lillis worries about her health. “The most aggressive players have the greatest injuries,” said Lillis.
Hilton has endured her share of nicks and bruises, but nothing serious. Already this season she split a lip in a 6-0 win over Hampton Bays (a game in which she had two goals and one assist) and then in a 4-1 loss to Shoreham-Wading River she was struck by a stick just below her left kneecap.
Hilton said she has ratcheted up the aggression a notch since last year, but at the same time understands the difference between aggressiveness and recklessness.
“It’s definitely just part of the game,” she said. “If you’re aggressive, you’re going to get hit with the ball.”
Teammate Madison Tabor — the other half of the team’s “Maddy squared” — said there is no quit in Hilton. “She doesn’t give up,” Tabor said. “Like the ball gets taken from her and she’s one of those players, which everyone should be, that that makes her mad and she’s going to get that ball back, like whatever it takes.”
In the offseason, Hilton refined her skills by participating in the USA Field Hockey Futures program. She said the experience has made her a better player. Others have noticed.
“Even from two weeks ago to now, like unbelievable,” goalie Katie Tuthill said. “She’s just had a completely different head on her shoulders from the beginning of preseason to now, like just what she has been doing for this team has been so helpful.”
The only question is will Hilton remain injury-free to stay on the field. She said minor injuries will not keep her out of games.
What would it take to get her off the field?
She said, “I guess a lot of blood.”
Photo caption: Greenport/Southold midfielder Madison Hilton is an aggressive player who is unafraid of battling for the ball. (Credit: Bob Liepa)