Home > John Jay’s Kroce a cheese-loving, tap-dancing, field hockey standout | USA Today High School Sports

John Jay’s Kroce a cheese-loving, tap-dancing, field hockey standout | USA Today High School Sports

A simple but unusual question was posed to a group of the John Jay High School field hockey players last week: Who is your most interesting teammate? The response was immediate, and in almost perfect synchronization they all blurted, “Jenna Croce!”

Her sense of humor, candor and “weirdness” make her fascinating, they said.

In addition to being eclectic and eccentric, Croce is a strong midfielder who excels at moving the ball in transition and has helped lead the Patriots to a league title.

As her team readies for the playoffs, the Journal chatted with this tap-dancing, head-standing, cheese-loving, self-proclaimed klutz.

What makes you weird?

I’m not afraid to just be myself. I think I say and do a lot of things that people think but wouldn’t say.

If you could be an animal what would it be?

Not a giraffe. People used to tell me I look like a giraffe. I’m only 5-foot-8, but I’ve been about this height since eighth grade and I was taller than most kids in my class, so they’d tease me with that. … I’d probably want to be a monkey. They’re flexible, agile, can swing and jump from anything.

If you could trade places with one person for a day?

That’s an easy one: Missy Elliot. I love her and she’s so cool. Plus, “Work It” is my all-time favorite song.

You have a background in dancing?

I started when I was 3. I did everything: ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, tumbling. I don’t do it seriously anymore, but I still have a pair of tap shoes. I tap dance in my house all the time and in front of my friends for fun. I do the Shuffle Ball Change really well. I gave up dancing to focus on field hockey and lacrosse.

Do you have a nickname?

“Baby Deer.” Teammates say I’m like a baby deer trying to walk because I’m kind of clumsy and I fall down a lot in games. I’m a klutz.

How can you tap dance but have poor balance?

I think sometimes my lower body is moving too fast for my upper body, or vice versa. With tap, your legs are flying all over the place and never in a normal position. Maybe that was good for me.

When you grow up?

I’d like to be a psychologist. I’ve always thought that it was cool that people were able to analyze other minds and determine what parts of the brain affect certain behaviors.

Most embarrassing moment?

Last year in Global History, I came in late to class and my teacher, Mr. (Michael) Chiacchia, was talking about when the U.S. bombed Japan in World War II. I said, “No we didn’t. We bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” My brain didn’t make the connection. I felt so smart at that moment, not realizing it, and the class started laughing.

Favorite recent memory?

For my 16th birthday, one of my friends gave me a two-pound block of extra sharp cheddar cheese. It was the perfect gift. … I finished it in one sitting.

Did you make anything with the cheese?

I ate it as is. I don’t like melted cheese, so nachos are out of the question.

Favorite cheeses?

I like rosemary cheddar, extra sharp cheddar and Muenster. I don’t think rosemary cheddar is widely known, but I worked at Fishkill Farms and they make it there.

What’s a hidden talent you have?

When I was younger, I used to knit. I can also do handstands really well and breakdance moves. I can stand on my head.

Odd, little-known fact about yourself?

My shin guards stink to the point where they smell like food. They smell like fettuccine alfredo. I keep my distance when I put them on so teammates can’t smell it. With all the practices and games, I haven’t had time to clean them. But I don’t mind the smell.

Teammates call you weird, so which one of them do you consider weird?

Emma Dolan. She’s a lot like me, but she tries to hide it. I just be myself, so I’m weird and don’t care. She only lets the weird out around close friends. Jess Lasaponara, too. She has a lot of strange facial expressions and sticks her tongue out during drills. I don’t think she realizes it. She also does a lot of impersonations and will start doing a southern accent for no reason. We were doing it on a bus ride from Pine Plains the other day and somehow it got to us talking about possum Shish Kebobs.

Celebrity crush?

Ben Affleck. I saw him in “Pearl Harbor” and he’s been my crush ever since. Ian Somerhalder, too.

If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you want?

A massive block of cheese — I could ration it so it lasts — a warm blanket, and I’d want my dog Ellie. She’s a Jack Russell Terrier.

Wouldn’t the island mice go after your cheese?

Good point. Rat traps would have to be one of my other items!

Stephen Haynes: [email protected], 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4

John Jay High School's Jenna Croce moves the ball during a field hockey game against Roy C. Ketcham on Sept. 29.

John Jay High School’s Jenna Croce moves the ball during a field hockey game against Roy C. Ketcham on Sept. 29.

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