Cassidy Puleo Wins Gold
Valencia Resident Reps SCV in AAU Junior Olympics
October, 2019 - Issue #181

When local AYSO phenom Cassidy Puleo told her parents that she wanted to switch from soccer to field hockey, confusion set in.

"We had never even heard of the sport," recalls her mom, Jennifer Puleo. "But she had friends doing it and the field hockey coach at Chaminade, Michelle Abbinanti, encouraged her to give it a try, so we dove in - and it's been an incredible ride so far!"

That "ride" has quickly propelled Cassidy to nation-wide recognition in the sport - she made the Max Field Hockey Class of 2021 National Player Rankings as a sophomore.

Now in her third year as a varsity starting defender for Chaminade, she also has made a name for herself with club team, the Moorpark Coyotes, and the Cougars Women's League - but this summer proved to be pivotal in her development as a player and student athlete on an entirely different stage.

"Because field hockey isn't nearly as popular on the West Coast as it is on the East Coast, I spent the majority of the summer traveling, training, competing and attending college camps to refine my skills," explains the 16 year old Cassidy.

You'd think the highlight of Summer 2019 would have been her trip to Holland to train with several clubs, thanks to that Max Field ranking - but no. "Absolutely the best thing to happen was being selected to participate in the 2019 AAU Junior Olympics - and going undefeated to win the gold," shares the Valencia resident.

The road to a medal started just a few months ago.

"This summer, Cassidy was selected again to represent Region 11 - West and Midwest states - at the National Field Hockey Championships in Spooky Nook, Pennsylvania," says Jennifer. The annual event is put on by USA Field Hockey as part of their USA Futures Olympic Development Program. "The event showcases the best field hockey players - about 200 girls - from around the country to compete against each other," she continues. "It was highly competitive - there are so many talented young women in this sport! But Cassidy really stood out. This year, she was selected at this event to move on and participate in the 2019 AAU Junior Olympics, which were held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina."

"I was placed on a team at random, along with about 80 other girls from all around the country, and given guest coaches to play in a three-day tournament," explains Cassidy. "I was a member of Team Black, coached by Kerry Kiddoo from University of Delaware." Team Black played six games in the scorching summer heat - and remained undefeated to win the gold medal.

"I've never been so excited in my entire life!" says the medalist. "My team was incredible - our connection was instant and we played so well together. It was the cumulation of a lot of hard work, but it just inspired me to push myself harder and continue to develop as a player and person."
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