Athlete Spotlight: Meet Maggie Kutz
Twenty-one-year-old Maggie Kutz made history this past fall when she became the first athlete with Down Syndrome to play collegiate field hockey. Like the rest of the population, Maggie isn’t defined by just one aspect of her life, but rather all the parts that make it up and the people she touches. Sometimes one thing can be a big part of us, and for Maggie – like so many others – one of those big defining factors is being a field hockey player.
USA Field Hockey reached out to Maggie, her family, and her coach AJ Misselhorn to learn more about who Maggie is, and her personal experience with field hockey.
Maggie is currently in her second year at Penn State (PSU) Harrisburg as a Career Services major. This past fall, she joined the newly instated PSU Harrisburg field hockey team – a program that began as a club team this season before they achieved NCAA Division III status for this upcoming spring. Not only did Maggie participate in the historic moment of PSU Harrisburg’s first field hockey game, but she also became the first known athlete with Down Syndrome to play at the collegiate level. In the spring, she will continue to be a part of the team as they transition to Division III status.
To help introduce Maggie is her coach at PSU Harrisburg, AJ Misselhorn.“I’d like to introduce the hockey world to Maggie Kutz! She has been a great addition to our team as she has many terrific qualities such as being an unselfish teammate and always being on time. She's great with communication over text and she helps keep me on time. She scored on a stroke during our first game against Red Rose club and she has been practicing her corner insert. Maggie has a great hockey drive hit as she learned from the best, Lower Dauphin’s Coach Linda Kreiser and Coach Erin Hanshue Catalfano."
"Having Maggie on our team has been amazing and she is a good reminder for all of us that hockey is about so much more than wins and losses and more about teamwork, dedication to something greater than yourself, and connecting with others whom we can learn from. I hope Maggie and her family, like so many other players I have coached, will end up being lifelong friends and together we can be a support system for each other and grow together as part of our hockey family."
“Coach Kreiser introduced me to [field hockey] at Red Rose Field Hockey camp. I have been playing since I was 6 years old. In high school, I played for Lower Dauphin which is one of the best teams in the country.”
“It is great to have a sister that does the same thing as me. We played together for one year in high school and have so many great memories. I still go to all of her games and take pictures for her high school team.”
“I look up to a lot of the players on the Lower Dauphin High School field hockey team.”
Maggie aspired to go to college, and succeeded in finding a place that she thrives. While she told USA Field Hockey that it has always been a goal of hers to play in college, the opportunity did not present itself until her second year at PSU Harrisburg, when the school announced they would be building an NCAA Division III program in the spring of 2024. The team started out its first official season at club status in the fall of 2023.
“It makes me feel a part of a group and the field hockey team is very nice and I like that I am a part of it. I love my classes and being a part of this team. I hope that other athletes with Down Syndrome have this opportunity.”
“It felt great. It felt very exciting. I wasn’t nervous because I was having fun. I was so happy because so many of my friends and family were there.”
Female Athlete News (FAN) published an article that dives more into Maggie’s first collegiate season, which you can read here.
“My favorite thing about field hockey is the bonds I have with my friends. And celebrating after winning games.”
As a coach, Maggie realizes the importance of investing in the next generation of field hockey athletes.
“I like to help other people be successful and show them how their hard work will pay off.”
To conclude, Maggie provided us with some of the simplest, yet powerful words of advice an athlete can give to others -