Almost two weeks after their arrival at Cornell, the freshmen girls are not only making their presence felt on North Campus. This year, Cornell’s field hockey team landed its biggest recruiting class in the program’s history with 14 newcomers. While many other freshmen found themselves going out during orientation week, these players were immediately thrown into practice and team meetings.
Head coach Donna Hornibrook, in her second year with the Red, is faced with helping the freshmen transition smoothly into a team of nine veteran players.
“We’re throwing them in,” Hornibrook said. “They have to adjust on the fly, and we [need] to accelerate the adjustment process by a year.”
And with only nine returning players from last year’s team, two freshmen will need to find themselves on the field very quickly. The team is scheduled to face its first opponent, Lehigh, on Friday.
After recording a 3-13 record last fall, the freshmen girls are a welcomed addition to the squad. “The upperclassmen have been really great and welcoming,” said freshman Katlyn Donoghue. “They made the adjustment into college a lot easier because we already have a group of friends.”
Since the freshmen arrived on campus, the players have done a variety of team building activities. Already the girls have spent a lot of time together, doing scavenger hunts and painting the ceiling of the team’s locker room.
With such a large addition of younger players to the squad, the teamwork between veterans and freshman will be very important.
“We were all surprised with the size of the class,” Hornibrook said. “You don’t anticipate [this many freshmen], but with the admissions process, we never know how many will survive.”
The Red ended last season with a tough 5-2 loss to Dartmouth before saying goodbye to five seniors. The team will need the new class to step up after the loss of Danielle Dunn ’05, who was named to the All-Ivy team last season. Along with Gina Testa ’05, Dunn led the team in scoring for the 2004 season. Instead of differentiating between each person’s class year, every player will arrive at the first game with the same purpose and goals.
“It doesn’t matter what year they are; they [each] have a job. We look at role, not year,” Hornibrook said.
But the team cannot simply rely on the new recruits. Both the experience of returning players and the quick adjustment of the freshman class will be important to the team’s performance.
“We need the [freshmen] to contribute big minutes in the first game,” Hornibrook said. “But we don’t want to take credit away from the returners. The upperclassmen have been fantastic in welcoming the new players.”
Only a few days into classes, the freshmen are still trying to find a balance between academics and athletics. Upon arriving at school, the girls already faced double practices daily during the preseason.
“I went straight to practice after getting to school,” said freshman Belen Martinez. “During the pre-season, we had double sessions right away where we worked on fitness. We also took classes in sports psychology and nutrition.”
Despite the intense level of conditioning and practice, the new group of players still found time to come together and mesh with the rest of the team.
“I know there are people that have been playing for three more years [than I have], but we all get along well,” said freshman Alyssa De Paola. “I am ready for the first game, but I’m nervous.” The team is now focused on getting ready for its debut.
“We’ve been training a lot, and hopefully we’re ready for our first game,” Martinez said.
Archived article by ristina Kovach
Sun Staff Writer