Recently, while visiting Total Hockey field hockey camp, I had an extended conversation with two of Lafayette’s veterans, Hannah Millen and Kirby Szalkowski. Entering their senior year this fall, these two roommates are determined to make the most of their last season on the Leopard’s turf. ” I suppose it’s a cliche,” said Millen, ” But this is our moment and we will try to make this a great memory for the whole team.” Millen is a history major and Szalkowski is a psychology major.
Rappolt: Are you anxious about this being your senior year?
Szalkowski: No, but we have been playing for the last 3 years and we intend to make the most of it.
Rappolt: What game are you looking forward to?
Szalkowski: Always the next one……So right now, it’s Ball State on August 30th!! It is always one game at a time and stay focused.
Rappolt : Can you remember the obstacles you had to overcome as freshmen, and can you give any advice to your first year players?
Millen: The biggest adjustment is the speed of the game and to be open to new strategies.
Szalkowski: Yes the pace of the game is much quicker and requires faster decisions.
Millen and Szalkowskow: It’s a hinderance not come to preseason in fit condition. There is a lot to learn and adjust to, and being out of shape is just another thing to be worried about. But that gets sorted out after the first beep tests!!
Rappolt: Are you in contact with each other during the summer, and are you doing anything to integrate the new players.
Millen: Every first year player has someone assigned to her to answer questions, and for help during the summer. We also have 7-10 informal practices so everyone can get together, and begin to feel like we are one seamless unit.
Szalkowski: That is always an objective. We want to support everyone and feel like one team, not a group of individuals. We are going to be very tight, with one single objective on game day.
Rappolt: Tell me about your experience in Spain.
Millen: It was a great time to bond and I think we played very well. Barcelona and Valencia were beautiful and the beach was great.
Szalkowski: It was great experience. I would love to go back!!
Rappolt: Did your Spanish improve?
Szalkowski and Millen: (Laugh) The effort was there. Amanda Magadan was our translator since she is fluent. But we all tried, and the local population was very helpful. Aside from the field hockey, seeing another culture and the beauty of the architecture left an impression on all of us.
Rappolt: You played one game against a men’s side, any differences???
Millen: Yes they hit the ball harder, and they were very strong.
Szalkowski: They had very accurate passing, but it was a great experience!
Rappolt: What did you get out of it the trip, overall field hockey wise?
Szalkowski: In the first game we were a little tentative but once we got our confidence, I thought we played well. That first contest we won 2-0 I think.
Millen: The other game was in our favor 6-2 as we played as a complete unit, the men’s game was 0-5 but we learned a lot. The last game was cancelled because of a thunderstorm. But I really think we came together during the trip!
Rappolt: Any last words? What will you be doing the rest of the summer?
MIllen and Szalkowski: We are looking forward to the season, when we have the whole team in camp. Millen said she will be working for her uncle, and Szalkowski will be working earning extra money for the fall. Both will continue to play hockey and remain sharp.