It’s not often that someone reaches the "pinnacle" of their athletic career at age 58.
That’s exactly the case, however, for an area woman who is likely a familiar face to many in the York County field hockey community.
Cathy Wreski has been officiating high school and college field hockey matches for the past 15 years, including many right here in York County.
Later this month, she’ll be an umpire for the Exin Masters World Cup in Spain. The age-group event is slated for July 27 through Aug. 5 in the Barcelona region. USA Field Hockey will send nine teams to the event — five women’s teams (35s, 40s, 45s, 50s and 55s) and four men’s teams (40s, 45s, 50s and 55s).
“Fifteen years ago, at the age of 43, I never dreamed I would be umpiring at an international event,” Wreski said.
Wreski played field hockey at Owen J. Roberts High School in Pottstown as defensive center back, even managing to score a goal.
That looked like it would be the high point of her athletic career.
She graduated from Penn State, but didn’t play field hockey there. She and her husband, Bob, had three children and Wreski became a stay-at-home mother.
Reconnecting with game: She reconnected with the game when her daughter, Jessica, played for Lower Dauphin High School and later Syracuse University. Wreski would often attend Jessica’s games with her father, who was a longtime PIAA baseball official.
“After hearing me comment continually on the officiating from the stands, he suggested I take the PIAA test to become an official,” Wreski said.
Wreski did just that, and has been successfully officiating ever since. During field hockey season, she said she works games nearly every day at the NCAA or PIAA level. She’s also an officials’ representative on the PIAA District 3 Committee.
“My husband says I’ve been retired all my life,” Wreski joked. “I umpire games whenever it fits in my schedule. Living in central Pennsylvania, there are a lot of field hockey games.”
Reaching "pinnacle:" This past winter, she had the opportunity to umpire an Australia-United States indoor match near Pottstown, but this will be her first international event outside of the United States. She’s also been on the technical staff for several international test matches at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Lancaster County, which serves as the home base for USA Field Hockey.
“When Bob and I became empty-nesters, I had the time to invest in training and I was available to go anywhere to work,” Wreski said. “With the help of some tremendous mentors, every year seemed to bring a new adventure and challenge. This is definitely the pinnacle to date.”
She will travel to Spain with her husband.
“We are both adventurous (and) enjoy trying new foods and love meeting the local people,” Wreski said. “Day trips to the Mediterranean beaches and to the south of France will be mixed in with our exploration of Barcelona.”
It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a 58-year-old woman who insists that “age is just a number.”
Given her accomplishments over the past 15 years, it’s hard to dispute that point.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.