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Athlete’s Diary: Field Hockey’s Julie Smith 11-8
The Quinnipiac field hockey team has finally stepped into the dream that was set so long ago. As a Division I athlete of any sport, you understand your place in the realm of things. For Quinnipiac field hockey, a program that started only 7 years ago, the dream of the NCAA’s seemed further than the horizon.
After 3 years of Division II competition, Quinnipiac took all of the sports along for the Division I ride. For some sports the jump was drastic, but for others the change was necessary. As for the field hockey team, we were one to respond to the challenge, taking home the 1998 and 1999 Northeast Conference Championship. In 1998 there was no advancement for the champion, but in 1999 Quinnipiac hosted the ECAC tournament. Although we finished fourth, we had once again stood up to the challenge against three other top Division I teams. Now as a senior, when I look back on the past four years I truly understand what it means and takes to win a conference title.
Although we didn’t take home the Championship trophy in 2000, we took home one of the keys to this years success without even knowing it. Who would have thought that the Second place NEC trophy would mean anything to us? Well, when you are running suicides 5 days a week from January to May with the trophy on the sidelines staring back at you, it brings meaning to the running. When you are lifting and the trophy is by the machine next to you, it brings meaning to the lifting. When the trophy is carried around for periods of 24 hours without leaving your hands, it brings a dedication and love for a team and a sport. This team has lived up to the challenges put in front of us and used the trophy as motivation. We spent four months this spring working for something that we had lost, and that hard work built a loyalty that has been a focus for the team.
As for the 2001 season, we resumed our Champion status and we were rewarded with an opportunity to reach the NCAA’s. On Tuesday, November 6, 2001, we will be playing in a “NCAA play-in game.” This means that the winner of this game will play the number one team in the country in the NCAA tournament. We are flying out to San Francisco, California to go up against University of California – Berkley, the NorPac (Northern Pacific Athletic Conference) champions.
This game means more to us than many of you could imagine. As many of you may know, there are only 6 “priority sports” here at Quinnipiac: Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Ice Hockey, and Lacrosse. Many of the differences between the sports are differences that cannot effect how an athlete performs, priority or not. As for field hockey the surface has the ability to change the game entirely. For those who don’t understand, going from grass to turf is like taking golf from a grass course to a sandy beach. So, we have been put up against the challenge of playing two styles of field hockey and it’s great to say that we are equally talented on both surfaces.
For the seven seniors this is our final stab at the NCAA’s. We have spent four years building a program that has lived up and beyond our goals and expectations. We have created a work ethic that attracts top Division I recruits. Through the past four years the program and the faces involved have changed, but the seven of us have stayed the same. We are lucky to have had this experience in college, and we know it. I find it difficult to imagine these past four years without relationships from sports. We may not all be exactly alike and we do have our differences, but that’s what makes us stick closer together. The success of the team over the past four years is just an added bonus to the friendships that have been made.
So, when we arrive home on November 7th, win or lose, we will bring Quinnipiac a greater sense of pride. A feeling that everything we had has been left out on the field in California. So, I congratulate not only my team, but also you, the university, because we are representing you everywhere we go. I say to you know prepare for the trip because we’re going to continue to amaze you.