Abby Zanelli is very familiar with Bucknell. Her mom is a 1983 field hockey and lacrosse goalie alumni, so she was on campus often for reunions/fun. Additionally, her brother JAZ is committed to Bucknell class of 2026 for lacrosse goalie. Because of these connections, Abby has always felt at home with Bucknell, and it was always her top choice for college, not only for the athletics, but also the academics.
Although Zanelli is only a rising junior, she is already excited to enhance her game. “Watching Bucknell in the championships last year I learned new goal keeping techniques, such as logging. During Nexus Championships this year, I was asked by my coach to log on the corners, and I discovered I am a pretty good logger! I look forward to attending future Bucknell clinics and working with the goalie coach and coaches to enhance my logging skills, and learn other new skills, before my arrival on campus".
Abby has not chosen a major yet, but is considering an environmental sciences or engineering path.
Abby was originally informed early in her sophomore year that Bucknell was not taking a 2024 goalie. This crushed Abby, and she set off looking at other colleges. "I signed up for every clinic and recruiting event I could. I went to ~8 national recruiting events, and ~15 college clinics. I was on the road, all over the east coast, every weekend of my sophomore year and subsequent summer. It was fun to travel with my Mom, but also exhausting. But there was an extra benefit, I got in great physical shape without even realizing I was doing so. Colleges noticed that I ranked higher than most goalies from a fitness/speed/endurance perspective."
Included in those college clinics were continued trips to Bucknell. Abby didn't give up on the hope that they would change their mind on recruiting a 2024 goalie. "I had attended every Bucknell clinic I could, in hopes that there was a chance to be recruited. I got to spend a lot of time with the new coaching staff and current players, and it only strengthened by desire to attend Bucknell. Two of my former team mates are Bucknell class of 2026 players, so the possibility of being able to play several more years with them was also exciting. I just keep reaching out to Bucknell, reminding them that they were my number one pick, hoping that they would change their mind on taking a 2024 goalie. As luck would have it, they did change their mind, and I am so thrilled to be committed there!"
High School/GRIT History
Abby played for several clubs before moving to NJ GRIT. "I lived in Hunterdon County, and not many people played club hockey. I was playing STEPS lacrosse at the time as well, and schedules were impossible and overlapping. I thought I would have to quit STEPS, and in fact I did, and in that process I was told that STEPS coordinated their schedules with a North Jersey field hockey club."
Abby, wanting to stay a dual sport athlete as long as she could, switched clubs. This meant more time in the car, as the club was an hour away. Her brother was also traveling an hour in the same direction to attend Seton Hall Prep, so, the family decided to move closer and make life easier! The Zanelli's moved into North Caldwell during COVID, the summer before Abby's freshmen year, allowing her brother a short drive to the Prep, and placing Abby literally in the back yard of West Essex Field Hockey and NJ GRIT.
Abby has been the starting West Essex goalie since her freshman year, and has played for the top U16 and U19 NJ GRIT indoor and outdoor teams. "Moving to a program that builds the top players in the state has been amazing. I finally have a field hockey family."
Abby thanks her parents for their support at all the field hockey travels near and far, and for moving their home so she could be part of the West Essex Field Hockey family. She'd also like to thank her coaches, especially Coach Jill Cosse, for believing in her and developing her into the player she is today. Abby also thanks her teammates for their support and friendship on and off the field.
Abby & her brother JAZ at their Mom's 25th Bucknell Reunion (JAZ is Bucknell class of 2026, Mom 1987