What does your life look like if you decide to go to America to combine sports and studies, something that is hard for many to imagine. That’s why we’d like to tell you more about it in this article.
Kim van der Meulen, former Slamstox’ field field hockey specialist, played hockey at UC Davis in California. She shares with us a year as a field field hockey player! And yes, from “field hockey player” we can also make “field hockey star. After all, college field field hockey is only done by women in the USA! In America, men play ice hockey, the sport that is one of the biggest in America, next to American Football, baseball and basketball. Also too crazy … Swap field hockey shoes for ice skates, men? 😉
Want to know more about a year in college field field hockey? Read on!
A year as a college field hockey player
The beginning of your first year in America can be exciting, especially if you don’t really know what to expect yet! That’s why I take you through a year as a college field field hockey player.
The start of the first semester is often sometime in early August. That is often a special time because studies on campus have not yet begun, school is still sort of closed. That means that only the athletes are on campus, everyone is preparing for the sports season. There is hard training, which does create a nice atmosphere. But we also work on team bonding, which is at least as important because you suddenly find yourself in a new team. In addition, you can get used to English as an athlete, which is also nice for most before the semester really starts. So a fun first few weeks where you get time to get used to everything new!
Late August to December – First semester
Then the practice games start at the end of August, it is nice to show the team what you have been training for in the first weeks. In September both school and field hockey season starts, so then it gets really busy! On campus it also gets busier because all the students start now.
Usually, as a field field hockey player, you then train about three hours a day, then you have three hours of school. You’ve already had a big day then, but after that you have to spend some time on homework, dinner, cleaning up and then …. some time to chill! That sounds busy, but all student-athletes have busy schedules. You are also together a lot with your teammates who follow the same schedule. Because you do it together, it becomes less strenuous and most importantly, it’s a lot more fun!
During the first semester you play about 15 to 20 games, which is a lot more than in the Netherlands! Sometimes you leave for the away games on Thursday and you are really gone the whole weekend, those are often the best trips. The distances in America are a lot longer, so if it is still possible to travel, the team travels by bus. But sometimes you have to travel really long distances and take the plane. The atmosphere is fun with the team and there is often time for fun activities in between. You will miss some school, but the university takes this into account for the student-athletes. As a result, you can often take tests at another time or classes are made up at a later time.
The competition season concludes with the final tournaments. These are the conference championships and for the lucky few also the NCAA Championships: a mega cool experience! The best teams compete against each other and the atmosphere is very special. Then in December begins the winter break, when most athletes go back home to be with family. You then have a month of vacation, in January the second semester starts.
Early January to June – Second semester
Most students return to campus in early January; this semester is often a bit busier academically for field field hockey players. You then train about 8 hours a week and do not play games. The hours you train are mostly individual, building your own fitness and strength. During vacations you get schedules to take back to the Netherlands so that you stay fit, it is also important to follow them otherwise you will have a tough time in America!
You can imagine that this is when you become optimally fit, starting in March your schedule as a field field hockey player changes again. You will train more on the field and with the team, about 20 hours a week. Also a lot of practice games are played again, this is to prepare the team optimally for the upcoming season. The seniors (final year students) do not play then, because they will no longer be part of the team next season. This semester lasts until May, then you also finish all the courses at school and the summer vacation already starts!
Almost all student-athletes then return home, or to another vacation spot. The summer break is quite long because student-athletes do not gather on campus again until early August. And then the year starts all over again. Important to keep up with the fitness schedule over the summer, though!
So the field hockey schedule in America is quite different than in the Netherlands. In the first semester you play many official games in a short time, especially in combination with the final tournaments. In the Netherlands you play the same team twice, but not in America. Here you only play once against another university, either at home or away. So in the second semester you don’t play official matches but prepare individually, but also as a team, optimally for the coming competition season. That shows you how professional and serious the sport is in America. And having the weekends off in the second semester also has another big advantage: you can go on fun trips with your friends and explore America!
Would you also like to play field hockey and study in America? Then contact our field hockey specialists Marle and Eva through this form. We would love to help you! Soon we will also organize two events, so you can learn more about field hockey and studying in America. On November 3 we will organize an infomation meeting and on December 9 we will organize our annual field hockey showcase.