Many freshmen find the pace of college to be faster than their high school pasts. But for the six first-year players set to compete on this year’s field hockey team — Stephanie Hoyer, Michaela McDermott, Erin Dallas, Sarah Wilhite, Heather Wiley and Paige Pickett — the transition applies to their sport as well. The speed of their new college lives is matched by the speed of the new game that they will witness on the college field.
“The intensity and the game speed that the girls will see on a daily basis are very different than their high school experiences,” first-year Michigan coach Nancy Cox said.
Despite the faster and more physical competition, Cox expects her newest players to step in and contribute right away. She plans to tap the talent pool of the freshmen class to fill the void created by the departure of 2004 Big Ten offensive player of the year Jessica Blake.
The credentials of the freshmen bode well for their success.
Hoyer was named Colorado’s 2004 Player of the Year by The Denver Post, and McDermott was named Ohio’s 2004 Player of the Year by The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Dallas gained all-state first-team honors three times in New Hampshire, and Wiley gained San Diego Hall of Champion All-CIF second team honors in 2004. Wilhite earned 2004 NFHCA High School All-America second-team honors, while Pickett earned All-Southwest Preparatory Honors in 2003 and 2004.
“We are expecting the freshmen to make an immediate impact with their scoring prowess,” Cox said. “I think all the kids will progress to where our intended goal is — to be in the Big Ten championship and to make a run at the NCAA Championship — so we have high hopes for these kids.”
The group will rely heavily on its cohesiveness, which shouldn’t be difficult considering many of the women played together in various national events throughout their respective high school careers.
“We’re a really close group coming in, which should boost the team morale over the next four years,” Wilhite said.
Said McDermott: “It’s comforting to know that everyone’s going through the same types of things so we can all relate and help each other through it all.”
The women themselves believe that they’re ready for the new speed of their lives both on and off the field.
“So far, everyone’s doing awesome,” Hoyer said. “It’s different than high school, but it’s not overwhelming, and I think all of us have adjusted pretty well.”
But, as these freshmen are likely to discover, errors are inevitable during one’s first year.
“It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them,” McDermott said.
That goes for all of the new Wolverines in Ann Arbor.