Field Hockey: The Exit Interview

Field Hockey: The Exit Interview

MIdllebury Athletic Communications


After the dust settled on their national title, we chased down the star-studded senior class — Annie Leonard, Lauren Schweppe, Caroline Knapp, Carson Peacock, Audrey Quirk, and Eva Dunphy — of the field hockey team and asked them to share some thoughts on their tremendous careers and their fitting capstone season. Read on for some brief excerpts of what they had to say.

On what it’s like to be a member of the Middlebury field hockey team:

Eva Dunphy: Something that has made being a member of this team so special is that, since we joined the team, it has always felt like one big family. I’ve been on a lot of different teams, but I’ve never been on one that has been as loving, supportive and close as the the one this program has cultivated.

Caroline Knapp: When we are together we try not to separate by class, which is a huge positive of our team. We all hang out and joke around with each other, and it is unimportant what year someone is. Over the past few years, older players always emphasized that everyone must have space to have her voice heard, so that every individual feels like she has a place, no matter if she is a first-year, sophomore, junior, or senior. I feel like I’m always learning from my teammates, regardless of their year.

Lauren Schweppe: Our coaching staff, led by Coach [Katharine] DeLorenzo is the heart and soul of the team. DeLo is more than a coach to her players. Throughout my four years on the team she has always put emphasis on fulfilling our potential as people and not just as athletes.

Carson Peacock: Having the opportunity to play for Coach DeLorenzo has taught me more about how to be the kind of person that I want to be than anything else. She is unyieldingly dedicated to the game and this team and she pours herself wholeheartedly into each season. She has taught me about passion, hard work, and attention to detail; how to lead by example, how to expect results from those working with me, and what it means to work and operate within a team. She has showed me how I can create the kind of relationships that I want and has helped me to understand the kind of person that I want to be.

I know that all of the seniors are so incredibly grateful for her expertise, love and support and that it would have been a completely different team and an entirely different four years without her.

On their historic 2017 championship run:

Peacock: This season felt different than any other. Like every year, we went into the season hungry for a championship. However, I would say that it wasn’t until after about halfway through the season that we realized how good we were and how serious of a shot we had.

I distinctly remember talking to Audrey [Quirk] and commenting on the fact that we were going to win it all, that we just knew somehow, a kind of feeling that we had never had before. And I think a lot of that feeling came from how the team approached the game this season.

While many teams were eager and enthusiastic to take us down, our team was never concerned with how other teams saw us. We knew and treated every game as if it would be competitive. There was an attention to detail that was wholly embraced by the entire team, and this made us seniors, as leaders of the team, feel more confident in this team than we had ever felt before.

Annie Leonard: What’s most exciting about the postseason is that previous games, records, and statistics are irrelevant: the team that shows up to play is the one that will come out ahead. When November rolled around, we were a totally different team than we were in pre-season, and even than we were in our last regular season game.

We found our rhythm on the field and there was an energy and feeling of connectedness with our passes and set plays that is almost indescribable.

In postseason, nothing is guaranteed, but the team thrives under that constant pressure and it brings out the best in us. Knowing the end goal and how badly we all wanted it maintained our focus. We never let any circumstances affect our game; it was mental toughness that propelled us forward.

On the 2017 NCAA Championship match, a 4–0 victory over reigning national champion Messiah:

Leonard: As seniors, having the opportunity to play our last collegiate game on a beautiful field against the team that ended our season last year, and for the championship title, there wasn’t really much else we could ask for. The circumstances were beyond perfect.

There were definitely some butterflies going into the game, but more for excitement than nerves. In the end, we were looking to play the best game of field hockey we’ve ever played, and we did just that, both on an individual and team level.

Statistically speaking, the game was evenly split, but we capitalized on our opportunities, which allowed us to maintain pressure on our opponents up until the 70th minute.

Winning the game, it was a feeling of pure joy, of happiness, of accomplishment, and of pride. Especially as seniors, we knew what it felt like to win a national championship and wanted nothing more than for our underclassmen to experience that same incredible feeling. For us, to have and share that feeling one more time is particularly special.

On what they hope to have left behind, and the teammates who will carry the standard:

Knapp: The legacy that I hope we leave behind is one of passion, drive, compassion, and support, not just within the realm of athletics but also in life. Being a great field hockey player alone is not what has made this team so wonderful to be on and successful, though that is obviously a piece of it, but rather it is being around supportive teammates, who want to hear how your day was, want to know how you are doing, and want to lift you up.

That support will continue to be a part of the core of this team and benefit each member. I know that I’ve benefited greatly from this support system and can only help that I have given back to my teammates, what they have given me.

Dunphy: The program is headed in such a good direction — there is so much talent and the returning players are an amazing group of players and people. The rising seniors are already great team leaders. They’ll do a great job instilling the values important to MCFH in the incoming group of first-years and setting an example for the rest of the team.

Schweppe: As seniors, we couldn’t have asked for a better group of underclassmen. I know their energy and love for the team and for field hockey will carry over in years to come. The advice I would give to the underclassmen is to value and enjoy your time on this team, because it’s truly a special experience.
I wish I could do it all over again.

(Unfortunately, we were unable to reach Quirk, but we have it on good word that she agrees with her teammates on the above.)