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“We want it to continue”: UNC field hockey continues in uncertainty


Goalkeeper and senior senior Amanda Hendry was at Chapel Hill for a while before returning to live with her parents in New Jersey. She summed up this summer training in one word: different.

Let’s all try to do as much as possible, said Hendry. I think we’ve all tried to motivate each other to work, because it’s much more difficult when you don’t know what and when the end goal is.

To maintain motivation and a strong mindset, the team started having bi-weekly sports psychology sessions which Hendry said would not normally occur during the summer. Hendry said they were able to discuss their feelings about everything from COVID-19 and the social distance to mental preparation and maintenance of training.

They help us stay in touch and talk about and stay cool about field hockey, said Hendry. It’s just nice to talk about field hockey sometimes, although we can’t all be together to do it.

Hendry and forward Erin Matson, midfielder Eva Smolenaars and back Courtnie Williamson are part of the teams’ management group, “said Hendry.

Smolenaars and Williamson are the two members of this group still at Chapel Hill. Smolenaars said being with his teammates, even if it was just running with two others, gives them the drive they need to move forward.

We know what it takes to win, said Smolenaars. If we are to do what we have done in the past two years, we know it will take effort and hard work. For this to happen, we need to stay on top of our workouts. The good thing about this is that we all love to do it.

Since team facilities are closed and large group training is prohibited due to social distancing guidelines, no return date is set for field hockey. Over the weeks, Smolenaars said that consistency in workouts was becoming more and more difficult for the entire team.

The reason? They are kept away from the sport they love.

The big thing we’re missing, of course, is playing field hockey which, in the end, is what it is all about, said Smolenaars. But it’s not like it’s the only team in this situation, every team has to face the same problem. I think those who dedicate themselves to their sport and try to stay consistent will see it as a chance to work more on individual skills … or a challenge to work as hard as possible.

For Shelton, it’s the ability to get through difficult times and come out stronger that defines the passion and greatness of his teams, whatever happens on the field.

Sometimes it’s good, says Shelton. When you have something that you love and are passionate about and that is removed for a while; when you return, you will appreciate it all the more.

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