In today’s “Feature and Athlete” we get a chance to talk with a couple of British Columbia field hockey athletes who are currently in New Jersey studying and playing field hockey at Rutgers University.
Sofia Walia, a 2014 All-Big Ten Conference and All-Region award winner, played and started in 16 games. As a defender she led team with six assists, was second on the team with seven goals, 20 points, 38 shots and two game-winning goals and tied for team-best with three defensive saves. Sofia will be a junior this fall.
Simrin Dhillon, is finishing a successful freshman year where she played in fourteen games, starting seven of them and will be looking towards a successful sophomore season in the fall.
Can you briefly describe your recruiting experience?
Simrin Dhillon: During the recruiting process I emailed some schools I was interested in, and a couple schools I wasn’t familiar with reached out to me. I sent skills videos as well as game play to them and went a some visits to make sure I could see myself attending the school. Shiv’s Coaching Academy, the Polar Bears, my high school coaches, and my Team BC coaches (Jenn Beagan!) also helped me and gave me tips through the process.
Sofia Walia: I believe that my recruiting process was a little different than others. I emailed the schools I wanted to go to and talked to them directly. I did not play at any festivals or tournaments. I emailed Rutgers and a few other schools and told them what I was looking for and they told me as well and it was simple process. I believe that festivals and tournaments are a great form of recruitment but that communication between the schools you want to go to needs to be simple and straight forward.
How did you decide on Rutgers?
SD: Rutgers offers many diverse programs and because it is such a large university there are many research opportunities available. Also, on my visit I felt like the school was a good fit for me and I really got along with the team and coaches.
SW: When I visited Rutgers I fell in love with the school. However for me that was not the most important part of college what I wanted was a team I could call family and coaches that would look our for me and help me improve as a player. And that is exactly what I found. I believe that when you make the decision to play in the NCAA or any school its a lot of scarifice. That is why it is important that you pick a school where you can see your self and where your team can become your best friends.
I also picked Rutgers because I wanted to be a part of creating history. Rutgers field hockey program is coming up to compete with the best team in NCAA and I wanted to be a part of history rather than trying to repeat history. Its an amazing feeling to be part of history.
What are you studying?
SD: I’m studying Exercise Science and planning on going the premed track. I’m taking classes like chemistry, calculus, statistics.
SW: I am studying sciences. Leaning towards Public Health and Nursing. I belive that one unbealivably important source in the NCAA is the academic staff. Without my academic advisor I would have know idea what I was doing in school. I think that there are so many resources that help you figure out and understand what you want study.
How have you balanced academics with training, travel and competition?
SD: Balance is definitely key in keeping you sane with the hectic schedules! I’ve tried to do this by completing assignments early when I know we are going to be missing class and communicating with my professors. It’s also really helpful to make study schedules and plan in time to study, eat and socialize.
SW: Yes. I definitely think that it is very challenging but with the sources that we are provided it becomes much easier to balance our school work with field hockey.
What did you expect and NOT expect about playing University Hockey in the NCAA?
SD: I expected the vigorous training schedule and a faster pace with more physicality. One thing I did not expect was the amount of off field mental training that is required and how it helps performance. This includes performance meetings with coaches and goal setting.
SW: The level of professionalism. Its pretty legit, I’d say its the closet thing to professional for the sport of field hockey. Its really cool the level of appreciation you get doing something that you love.
What has been the best part of your Rutgers experience so far (could be athletic, academic or other)?
SD: It is very hard to pick one favourite moment! Some of my favourite things about Rutgers are my team, the school spirit, all the resources available for research, football games and the awesome gear we get.
SW: Qualifying for our first ever Big Ten tournament and doing it in the first year in the Big ten. It is amazing expericance being able to play in biggest conference in the NCAA and to qualify for the tournament.
What is the best part about your team?
SD: The best part of my team is that we are all really good friends off the field, and we all enjoy doing team bonding exercises and just hanging out together. We all also push each other on the field and during training to play our best.
SW: The best part is that we are all each others best friends. This makes being away from home and family much easier because you have a family at your school. The importance of your teammates and the culture of your program is so important, I can not emphasize it enough. The teammates you have is the environment you will be around majority of the time you are at your school. I am so lucky I have wonderful relationships with my teammates and happy that we are all each others well-wishers.
Do you have any pre-game traditions or superstitions?
SD: We have some pre-game locker traditions which involve a lot of singing and our school chant.
SW: I do my prayers before each game and that has now become my pre- game traditions. I also pray before entering the field because I consider my self lucky to be able to play and for that I thank God. I also take five deep breathes after I do my prayers.
What advice would you give to athletes that are thinking about playing in the states
SD: I was originally hesitant about going to school so far away from home, but I could not be happier with my decision. I would definitely advise athletes to take the risk to study abroad. The change in environment has helped me develop my hockey and helped me become more responsible. I recommend going on visits and making sure the school you are looking into meets your academic interests while also meeting your field hockey interests/goals.
SW: Take the opportunity, I believe that sometimes people just throw away the idea of even leaving home, but you don’t really know what you like until you actually try it out. With the States, its not something that works for everyone, but you truly don’t know unless or until you try it out yourself. Its a great opportunity that allows you to grow up faster yet find yourself and do both school, and sports. To be able to play what you love and still go to school with so much support its not a chance everyone gets so its something everyone should try. ßΩ
What Song is getting you pumped up to play lately?
SD: Clarity and Lost at Sea by Zedd
SW: I have a Bhangra (Punjabi) mix that I listen too! Its my Jam, one of my friends made it and it gets me PUMPED!!