Marissa Weldon only needed to watch a few skills sessions, if that was the case, to see that Paige Cornelius had the makings of a solid field hockey player despite being in sixth grade.
What convinced the New Albany coach?
“Paige would do (exercises) and she could do them better than I do,” said Weldon, a two-time high school state champion in Pennsylvania who went on to play at Columbia University. “I knew from a young age that she was going to be that good.”
Cornelius, now a second-year midfielder and an integral part of the Eagles’ 11-2-1 start, attributed his early talent to passion and a desire to learn.
“I was always eager to learn more, so I thought if I could surround myself with an environment with great players that would help,” Cornelius said. “So every open session I could attend, I was there. I grew up from there.
Cornelius scored 16 goals in 14 games for New Albany, who was 7-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division after beating Hartley 5-0 on October 6. She had eight goals a year ago, when the Eagles finished as the district finalist for the second straight season, and is the only Ohioan to have been invited to USA Field Hockey’s U16 selection camp this winter.
“Paige is just the set,” Weldon said. “She is a talented athlete, a talented field hockey player and I love the fact that she is humble and a friend to everyone on the team. I have never heard her say anything negative about anyone in the field. She is still such a positive and encouraging teammate. She’s just the whole package.
Cornelius is the latest in a line of successful athletes in his family.
Older sister Lydia helped the New Albany women’s football team win two OCC-Capital championships and was the league’s player of the year and the state’s second team as a senior in 2018. She signed to play at the University of Chicago.
Their sister, Regan, totaled 67 goals and 46 assists during her field hockey career at Columbus Academy and competed at the State Championships in 2018 and 2019. meets on the field and now plays hockey on turf in Northwestern.
“(Regan) kind of got me into the sport,” said Paige Cornelius. “I made so many good friends and met great teammates that I fell in love with them. She is the hardest worker I have ever met. She also did cross country and track. I knew if she could do whatever she did, so could I. She pushed me to do my best, always.
“We (sisters) have always been competitive in a way that we want to uplift each other. We are always at the games of others and support them. It has never been hard for us. We just want the best for each other.
Like Regan, Paige Cornelius is involved in two sports this fall. When her schedule allows, Paige also plays singles for the women’s tennis team, which won their 16th straight league championship.
Paige started playing tennis when she was 4 years old.
“As a tennis player her agility is so good,” said Weldon. “His ability to move side to side from side to side with such rapid speed is so hard to stop.”