No. 15 Rutgers boasts 6 international players this season
Imagine leaving everything you’ve ever known — your friends, family, significant others. Imagine coming to New Jersey from another country, for the first time, by yourself, as an 18-year-old kid.
For the Rutgers field hockey team, the latter has become the norm. With six international players playing for the Scarlet Knights (8-3, 1-3) from four different countries, the team has embraced players from all over the globe.
The current roster boasts two players from Ireland, two from the Netherlands, one from New Zealand and one from Germany.
With field hockey being such a global sport, it only makes sense that international players would want to compete at the collegiate level in America, while also getting a great education.
“I’ve always wanted to come to the States to study,” said sophomore midfielder Kerrie Burns who is from Ireland. “Also to play for the experience, you always hear about the college experience, so I took things into my own hands and made it out here.”
Head coach Meredith Civico has put a lot of time finding these global recruits, who use recruiting agencies to help them get noticed by schools in the United States.
These agencies will contact U.S. programs, send coaches game footage, set up interviews and oversee the entire process for the international athletes.
“For (senior backfielder) Linde van Schaik and (sophomore midfielder) Daphne Groothuis, we were actually contacted by a recruiting agency in Europe who sent us their profile and some videos,” Civico said. “At first we were really interested because of the videos we saw of them, and then we got to know them from skyping, phone calls and emails, and we really developed a relationship with them.”
After initially making contact with international players, the next step is hosting the players at Rutgers on an official visit.
Each player that gets recruited from overseas has a process that happens a little differently. In the case of Ireland natives, junior midfielder Katie Larmour and Burns, Civico learned of the girls by a tip from a friend.
“A friend had reached out and had given me Katie Larmour’s name, and recommended her, so we reached out and got in contact with her,” Civico said. “Kerrie Burns was a friend of Katie, so some of the recruiting happens from word of mouth.”
For many of the players, the initial visit to Rutgers is their first time ever in New Jersey. Burns noted that the reason why she chose to come and play for the Knights was because of her visit to the school, and meeting the girls she'd potentially be playing with.
Obviously, there are some adjustments that have to be made culturally for many of the players coming to New Jersey for the next four years of their lives. The pressure of Division I sports leaves no time for tardiness or being laid back about practice, Burns said.
There is also a difference between field hockey overseas and field hockey in the U.S., as school and sports aren't played under the same organization. Students would have their studies in school and play for club teams at night, there were no school teams, Groothuis said.
But to others, the game itself is different here than overseas.
“The biggest difference in Ireland is hockey is much more skill based. Here in the states, I didn’t realize how fitness based it was going to be,” Burns said.
Although the transition may be hard at first, all of the players have grown to love things about the state of New Jersey, and are enjoying their time on the Banks.
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