Iowa field hockey continuing to train, hoping for a spring season

Although the Big Ten postponing the fall season didn’t come as a surprise, the team was still devastated. Now, the Hawkeyes are preparing for a potential spring season.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa players huddle up during an exhibition game against Northwestern at Grant Field on Saturday, August 24, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 3-2.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

The Iowa field hockey team was gathered for its first day of preseason practices on Aug. 11 when athletes and coaches heard the news that the Big Ten had postponed fall sports seasons.

Ultimately, the decision didn’t come as a surprise, but that didn’t make it any less impactful.

“It was good for us that we were together when we got the news,” head coach Lisa Cellucci said. “We kind of knew that it was coming, but that doesn’t change how everybody felt and reacted. The team was devastated, and I know that the coaches were as well.”

Players concurred with the coach’s assessment of the negative situation.

“Initially, it was really hard to hear,” junior midfielder Lokke Stribos said.

Although the entire program was devastated by the news, Cellucci said that she understands the concerns about COVID-19 that were behind the conference’s decision.

“As tough as it is, I think that they’re looking out for the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and everybody associated with the program,” she said. “Yes, we want to play, and I hope we can play in the future, but these are people’s lives, and we want to make sure that they stay healthy.”

Junior goalkeeper Grace McGuire also agrees with the decision, saying that even if there was a season, the team wouldn’t be able to have “meaningful or competitive play.”

Added junior forward Leah Zellner: “If we were to try and play in the fall, I feel that we would only get a few weeks in before they would shut it down.”

RELATED: Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren says conference’s decision to postpone fall sports ‘will not be revisited’

After the team took time to debrief and process, it wasted no time getting back out onto the field. The coaching staff has already put out plans to practice through Thanksgiving, expanding on the spring offseason and getting more practices and conditioning sessions in.

The NCAA approved a waiver on Aug. 21, for all fall sport athletes to receive an extra year of eligibility regardless of whether the season gets played in the fall, spring, or not at all.

Right now, both coaches and players aren’t sure how they’re going to navigate the extra year of eligibility. Cellucci said that the program’s priority is with its current student-athletes, but the program also needs to build the roster for the future.

“I haven’t thought too far ahead about [the extra year],” Zellner said.

Although the team won’t have the chance to play competitively this fall, the team noted a bright side: The freshmen on the team will be the most immersed class in program history.

Normally, new recruits only get 11 days of preseason practice before playing in their first game. This year, they will have months with the team before facing off against another school.

“We’re really excited to get a little bit more time [with the freshmen] and them getting a little bit more experience before games,” Zellner said.

Said Cellucci: “Our younger players will really have an opportunity to get their feet wet, get a lot of hockey and skills and training under their belt, and be in that much better position to help come the spring.”

For now, the team is training and hoping for a spring season.

“I’m grateful that we are still able to practice as a team,” Stribos said. “We have a lot of time now to focus on connections and personal skills, and we’ll be ready for a spring season.”

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