When San Benito High senior Railyn King decided to play on the field hockey team in her freshman year, her intent was to earn a scholarship to play in college. It was a pretty lofty goal considering King had never played the sport before, but then again, King has always been one to set the bar high and then work hard to achieve it.
Whether it was ice hockey, soccer, rodeo, or Future Farmers of America (FFA), King has been diligent in whatever endeavor she has embarked upon. King achieved her goal of earning a chance to play college field hockey as she signed her letter of intent to attend the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina, a Division II program. It’s a historic signing for King as she becomes the first player ever from the San Benito High field hockey program to earn a spot on a college team.
“It’s everything I’ve been working for,” said King, who signed her official letter of intent last Saturday and will have a ceremony event at school on Friday recognizing her achievement. “I had been getting quite a few offers, but I was really excited when a school with an agriculture program approached me.”
Mount Olive had something the other schools that were vying for King didn’t—an agriculture education program. Even then, King had a tough choice to make between Mount Olive and Mercy College in New York.
“When I started (the recruiting process), I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue agriculture or not,” she said. “But as I began to write my scholarship essays, I really wanted to continue on with agriculture education. Mount Olive was the only school that had it and a field hockey program.”
King persevered throughout the whole process, putting herself in the right position to get noticed. King had garnered interest from a couple of Division III schools by October, but she wanted to play at a program that could in effect offer her a scholarship to play, which Division III programs can’t offer. King knew she had one final chance to put her skills on display in front of 100-plus college coaches, and that was at a national tournament showcase in Florida in January. Upon the advice of her former club coaches from the Infinity program in Gilroy, King decided to try out for the Mad Cows traveling team out of Davis. By late October, King was told she had made the team and it was going to play in the Florida showcase tournament.
“I was pretty nervous (for tryouts) because a lot of girls were trying out, and quite a few were from Mitty and Los Gatos, and they won CCS last year,” King said. “Those girls were known for being good, but it turns out I made the team and was able to meet some new people and learn how to do skills better than I had done before. I was able to work with the Davis coach, which helped me improve my reverse chip shot where I hit the ball on the move and am able to make that skill a little better. Being able to hone in on that skill really was an instrumental piece in helping me become a better player.”
The fact that King earned a spot on the Mad Cows didn’t seal her ticket to playing for a Division II program. The 5-foot-7 forward still had to make an impression at the national showcase tournament, which is exactly what happened. A week or two after the tournament ended, Mount Olive coach Daan Polders contacted King, and the two scheduled an appointment for King to do a campus visit.
From there an offer was made and King accepted, fulfilling a goal she had set out three years ago. In her talks with Polders, King said the Mount Olive coach liked her ability to shoot with power and her overall versatility on the field. King possesses tremendous speed, moves well with or without the ball and looks to elevate the play of her teammates as well.
King has high expectations for herself in whatever she does, including track and field. Upon the urging of Balers’ sprints coach Ryan Shorey, King decided to compete on the track team for the first time this season.
“I decided to take the club (field hockey) season off and focus on getting faster,” she said. “The season is not going as good as I had hoped, but I’m working on it. I’m pretty mediocre in all of my events.”
Shorey would beg to differ, as King recently set personal-records in the 100- and 200-yard dashes while also competing in the long jump and 4×100-relay team.