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Stonington - Although Meagan Dreher likely had an inkling that life existed outside sports, the moment that underscored that came in March when she stepped onto the stage for the first time as part of Stonington High School's rendition of the musical "Cinderella."
"I was so shy, so nervous about it. The idea wasn't even in my head. I signed up at the last minute," said Dreher, who appeared as part of the show's ensemble. "When I walked on the stage it was so exhilarating. That's when I realized that success is so much more than athletics. My family is so sport-oriented; you realize it's more than just a winning goal or making a shot in basketball."
That's the way Meagan Dreher plays field hockey, too.
Heading into her senior season as a member of Stonington's defending Class S state championship field hockey team, Dreher will likely start for the Bears at left wing. She also brings a sense of what Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio refers to as spirit.
"She brings that attitude to field hockey," Tucchio said of Dreher's notion that there's more to life than sports. "That, 'We're here to support one another.' And 'There are a lot of other great things about being on this field.'
"This is her time to shine. This is her place. She really earned her spot. Meagan has worked very diligently. She has invested her time and her heart into the team. She wants to win, but she also wants them to be happy and having fun."
A sampling of Dreher's other activities at Stonington include softball, the school's mock trial team and the media classes she's taken as electives throughout her career since she first began media communications as a freshman.
Another of her highlights this spring, in fact, came as Dreher was asked by softball coach Ann-Marie Houle to produce a video for Stonington's "Play4theCure" matchup against Waterford. An annual tradition between the programs, the May 7 game raised funds this year for the Lisa Wentz-Day Scholarship Fund, the Joshua Eudy Scholarship Fund and Camp Rising Sun.
Dreher's video, twelve and a half minutes in length, elicited emotion both due to the cause, defeating cancer, and in Dreher's storytelling. Dreher interviewed numerous Waterford softball players for the video, as well as her own teammates. Additionally framing the story, she talked to Stonington graduates that were friends of Wentz-Day, who died of cancer in 1990 at the age of 20.
"I've been there," said Dreher, whose grandfather Harry Day of Westerly died of cancer when she was in the seventh grade. "I'm also super-outgoing."
Dreher has also made news videos for her classes, a video based on a poem - she chose "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson - and is currently working on a humorous piece based on her summer job at the Watch Hill Carousel.
She'd like to major in something to do with kids, international relations and film, she said with a smile.
Dreher, whose dad Andy is a member of Stonington's Athletic Hall of Fame, said she's "not amazing" in any sport. She takes pride in her status as a field hockey player, however. She jokes she is defending her turf from her sister Cameron, who was a three-sport varsity athlete as a freshman last season and will start in goal this year for the field hockey team.
"But really, she's my biggest motivator, my biggest supporter," Dreher said of Cameron. "... I remember four years ago. Time flies. It's crazy (winning a state championship). It made us feel more confident. Two years ago we made it and didn't win. Then last year we said it was our turn and we did it."
Practice began for Dreher's senior season on Saturday. The Bears had more than 80 players sign up, though that number has dwindled some. Tucchio said Dreher is willing to do whatever it takes to make herself better, often asking questions, helping direct her younger teammates.
"I've never been much of a long-distance runner," Dreher said with a laugh, asked of practice so far, which has included a few long runs. "But I feel like I'm in a lot more charge."