If its the beginning of July it’s camp time for young field hockey players. Rappolt Field and the campus of Lafayette College is hosting two camps this year as young aspirants sample the college environment while polishing their skill for the upcoming season. For the first three days, it is individual training where campers get close one on one instruction from the Lafayette coaching staff as well as past and present college stars. In the evening, they get a chance to test their skills in pick up games against top talent. Next week there will be a camp where high school teams work as a group against like players, to get a jump on the fall season.
Today, I visited the morning session of the individual camp, and the participants were hard at work on the astroturf raising their field hockey IQ. The treat for me was to see at least five of the six incoming Leopards in action up close. They already know each other and the current team through recruiting and they now get a chance to be on the field with their new teammates in the camp setting.
Aside from drills which are used during the regular season, they received instruction and measured for overall fitness. They hear lectures from sport psychologists and live in the dorms as they will ,beginning in four weeks.
My sense is that perhaps for the first time they are beginning to appreciate the discipline and hard work it will take to be a Division One athlete. The six new student athletes will be tested as athletes and as students. I saw future chemical engineering majors, neuroscience majors, and a plethora of other academic disciplines represented. But also in four weeks, the six will be matching their skills with nationally ranked division one athletes from across the country.
Lafayette will have on field, athletes from four countries including multiple states. It will be the coaching staff’s duty to blend that talent into one smoothly functioning team. The upperclassmen have returned from an undefeated foreign tour as well as an extremely successful spring season. Fifty percent of the incoming class represented themselves at Spooky Nook, the US field hockey training center in national tournaments.
I have that first week in August circled as the team will hit the turf to begin formal preparations for the fall season. Slightly more than one week later on August the 14th they will be playing Monmouth in a scrimmage followed on the 24th for an evening scrimmage at home against Fairfield University.
The real season begins with a trip to Virginia to meet Richmond University on the 31st at 3 pm. After that its a quick trip down to Williamsburg on the 2nd of September to meet William and Mary at noon. The first home game will be against Temple on September 7 at 7pm before traveling to Quinnipiac to play Maine on the 9th. This will all build to a very important game with archival Lehigh on September14th to avenge last years 1-0 overtime loss, this time at Rappolt Field under the lights with a home crowd in attendance. More on the schedule later this month. In August, I plan as usual, to give a review of the league which in my opinion will be better from top to bottom.
Our players continue to train and plan to arrive in top shape with a lot of experience to be on the field come the opening whistle!! GO PARDS!!!!