Field hockey adjusting training regimen for Feb. 12 start date

The NCAA announced spring start dates for postponed fall sports, with field hockey starting on Feb. 12.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa midfielder Ellie Holley runs after the ball during a field hockey game between Iowa and Duke at Grant Field on Sunday, September 15, 2019. The Hawkeyes were defeated by the Blue Devils, 2-1 after two overtime periods.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Fall sports were postponed by the Big Ten Conference on Aug. 11 because of COVID-19. The NCAA announced on Sept. 23 that field hockey will have a spring start date of Feb. 12.

Given that, the Hawkeyes will need to adapt to playing in the spring instead of the fall by changing their training regimen, adjusting their classes, and faring with the winter weather.

Since field hockey is typically a fall sport, February is usually the middle of the offseason. Senior midfielder Ellie Holley said that it is usually the point in the offseason when the team is the most out-of-shape, so it is going to be an adjustment to stay game-ready through the spring

“It’s going to be very different coming back after Christmas break, where everyone likes to rest and eat a lot of food,” Holley said. “I think it’s going to be very weird coming back in February ready, usually that’s when we come to our lowest fitness state and work up.”

Senior Emily Deuell said that the players also backload their classes for the spring semester, making sure to take their easier courses in the fall so they can better focus on the season. While the players could possibly push some of their courses to fall 2021, they could still end up with a heavier-than-usual course load for the season.

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Finally, Iowa weather in February is very different compared to Iowa weather in September and October. If the Hawkeyes are to play a conference-only schedule, they won’t have many opportunities to play in the south. The team does have an indoor practice field in the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center, but Holley said that it is not the same size as a normal field.

Right now, the team is trying to keep in shape and simulate normal games as best they can.

“In the beginning, we had to kind of adapt to treating it as an in between of an offseason and an actual fall season, and like the way that we’re doing that is that we get to play games on the weekend with the team,” Deuell said. “We’re going to have a walkout, we’re going to have probably the anthem, so it’s going to simulate a real game.”

The NCAA also provided a blanket waiver for all fall sport athletes, whether the season is played or not, to have an extra year of eligibility.

Both Holley and Deuell are considering staying another year. Holley is looking into applying for graduate school for next year. Deuell is considering pushing back her graduation from May 2021 to December 2021, but she also knows that circumstances can change at any moment.

“I’ve actually been going back and forth about that a lot myself,” Deuell said. “I think that I, of course, would love the opportunity to play again next year and finish out my senior year strong, but I also understand just that you never really know how next year is going to go, even with COVID, so I think for me the biggest part will just be not making too many plans and taking what opportunities present themselves.”

Senior midfielder Nikki Freeman has already decided to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility and pushed back her graduation to December 2021 to play a final fall season.

“I’ve been playing field hockey since I was six, and I really wanted to finish out my career and play my four years,” Freeman said. “I’m just really happy to get the chance to play with the team for another year, because I know that we have a great opportunity ahead of us and that we can go really far.”