Netherlands native brings spark to Rutgers
In the Netherlands, field hockey is a way of life. People start playing at a young age, and this translates to massive success on the international scale.
The Dutch women’s field hockey team is currently the top-ranked team in the world and has won three Olympic gold medals and seven Field Hockey World Cups. More recently, many Dutch players have been playing for collegiate teams in the United States and are often the top players on a team.
“You’re seeing more and more European players come over, especially from the Netherlands,” said Rutgers head coach Meredith Civico. “Field hockey in Holland is very different in that they start very young, whereas in the U.S. they don’t start until later. In Holland they (pick up a stick) as soon as they can walk, and it’s usually a family affair.”
Civico would know since her team is one that has a Dutchwoman as its star.
Dutch freshman Daphne Groothuis is one of the Scarlet Knights’ top players. In 11 games, she is tied for the team lead with 6 goals (coincidentally, with fellow Dutchwoman Linde van Schaik), and has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice, while being a constant presence on the Rutgers offensive attack.
The 17-year-old is from Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel and both her parents and brother have played field hockey. Previously, she was the captain of Hockey Club Rotterdam and won silver and bronze medals at the Under-16 National Championship. Most recently, she played for RHV Leonidas last season, where she had 6 goals and 21 assists in 16 games.
With American colleges chomping at the bit to recruit players from overseas, Civico's was a long and arduous process in getting Groothuis on the Banks.
“We were in touch with her initially over e-mail,” she said. “Then we had a lot of Skype calls, she sent us a lot of videos and we really recruited Daphne for about a year and a half. We had her and her family over to visit Rutgers, and the moment she stepped on campus, it felt like the right fit.”
Groothius herself said that she chose Rutgers because of the team and the coaching staff. She said she and her family felt comfortable with the way they were treated.
When it comes to actually playing for the Knights, Groothuis feels like she is both a teacher and a student.
“I have a lot of experience playing in a different kind of setting, and I know things that the girls here don’t,” she said. “They can learn from me, and I can learn from them.”
When asked if there was anyone on the team that she looked up to, she said there was no one specific person but that she can get help from anyone.
“I can learn something from every single person on the team, whether it’s the captain for her leadership or a defender for her hard hits,” she said. “There’s no one person that I look up to.”
Groothius is obviously a valuable player for Rutgers, but Civico detailed just exactly what she means to the team.
“She’s been able to come in and play center forward as well as center-midfielder,” she said. “She understands and communicates the game incredibly well, and is probably one of the, if not the hardest-working player on the team. Every day in training she just brings 100 percent and almost never comes off the field during a match. She adds so much to the team, and I’m not sure where we would be without her.”
When Groothuis eventually graduates, she plans on returning to the Netherlands and playing in the Hoofdklasse, the top Dutch league.
Most importantly, Groothuis is more than just a good player — she’s also a good teammate. Civico said that even some older players look up to her and learn from her.
“She’s a very smart hockey player on the field, even as a freshman,” she said. “She’s been able to have a very big impact, and that’s always something nice when you’re bringing in a new player.”
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