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Rachel Fleig, who plays three sports for Chesapeake High School in Anne Arundel County, is the U.S. Army Impact Player of the Month for June.
Fleig, who just completed her junior year, was nominated by Chesapeake high school head field hockey coach Joan Johnson.
"Rachel was selected last summer to participate on the Region Seven team selected for USA Field Hockey's National Futures Championship Team, and from there, selected to the AAU Junior Olympics where her team won the silver medal," Johnson wrote in her nomination. "Rachel is a three-sport athlete and a leader at Chesapeake. She was also a captain her junior year for both the field hockey and bowling teams."
In addition to field hockey and unified bowling, Fleig is a member of Chesapeake's outdoor track team during the spring, running on relay teams and competing in the long jump.
In an age when many high school athletes are told to focus on one sport in order to get a college scholarship, Fleig has proven that playing multiple sports is beneficial, too. Fleig has already committed to play field hockey at the NCAA Division I level for Appalachian State University.
"I don't want to just sit around those other two seasons and be a one-sport athlete because I have fun playing other sports," said Fleig, who's accrued a 3.75 GPA at Chesapeake. "It's fun to encourage others to get out there, work hard and focus on getting better."
Fleig has enjoyed a standout field hockey career during a golden era for the Chesapeake program.
The field hockey program had never won a Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association state title prior to 2013, when Johnson began coaching at Chesapeake, and the group's last regional title had come in 2001. The Cougars' fortunes have changed dramatically with Johnson at the helm, with multiple Anne Arundel County titles and MPSSAA 3A state championships in 2016 and 2017.
Fleig, who is a three-year starter, has been a key cog in Chesapeake's surge. A forward and midfielder, she's been a constant scoring threat her entire career. This past season, she netted 15 goals and 17 assists, while as a sophomore, she scored 21 times, and dished out 15 assists.
"The girls we have are underdogs," Fleig said. "We'd never won anything before, so we aren't used to getting handed things. It means a lot to work hard at everything, like practicing and conditioning, and to turn around the program. I feel like we've done a good job of setting it up for the future."
Fleig's influence on the Cougars' field hockey program extends beyond the field of play, according to Johnson. She's been known to set up team bonding nights at her house for the entire squad to ensure everyone in the group feels more comfortable around each other.
"In practice I try to lead by example -- go first during drills, and encourage everyone to do their best," Fleig said. "I also encourage my teammates to hang out with one another and do things together. My main goal for the team this season is to come together more than ever before. If we focus on teamwork and passing, I think we'll be even more efficient than we have been in the past."
Fleig has also had a strong influence on Chesapeake's unified bowling program. Originally trying out for the team just because she thought it sounded fun, Fleig became a crucial player for a Cougars squad that won a county championship this past winter.
"Rachel has a sense of friendliness and fair play, often treating people courteously even when other teammates start to get tired," unified bowling head coach Nancy Czach said. "Rachel's healthy perspective and cheerful demeanor have made her a favorite on the team since she joined."
For Fleig, being a member of the team and getting to interact with her teammates, some of whom have physical or mental disabilities, has been an amazing experience.
"I never want to leave the bowling team," Fleig said. "It's made me appreciate what I have a lot more because a lot of kids aren't as fortunate as I've been. It's also helped reinforce to me how important it is to be kind to one another. Being a member of the bowling team has made me a much better person, my teammates have helped me so much."