Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2006

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Field hockey team travels Down Under

Field hockey team travels Down Under
the field hockey team donned wetsuits for surf lessons on manly beach in sydney, australia.

Field hockey team travels Down Under

Will Tomasian


Studying away is a critical element of the Connecticut College experience. This May, the field hockey team put their liberal arts education into motion with a two-week tour of Australia. The trip was coordinated by head coach Debbie LaVigne, who is in her sixth season at the helm of the Camel program. The Camels played several exhibitions and had plenty of time to tour the country and all its offerings.

“The trip was an amazing experience,” LaVigne said. “The team did well considering we hadn´t played together since last October, and not all of the players made the trip. The games were close and the team was focused on playing hard.”

LaVigne believes in the bonding that takes place on an international trip. It´s an experience that members of the team will carry with them long after their career is over. Sage Shanley, a senior co-captain from Westerly, R.I., and one of three Camels named to the 2005 National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-Region Team, echoes her coach´s sentiments “The team is closer than it has ever been,” Shanley stated. “We were together all the time, whether it was on or off the field. The friendships between the players on the team became stronger just because of the situation we were in. We were on a team trip, and it was us and Australia.”

One of the highlights of the trip was playing a game in the Olympic Hockey Stadium in Sydney. The Camels also attended an opera and visited the zoo, the aquarium and the botanical gardens. The Camels attended a rugby match and had a team surfing lesson on Manly Beach.

Jill Mauer ´08, another returning NFHCA All-Region standout from Milbrook, N.Y., was floored by the experience. “This was my first international trip, and it was absolutely amazing,” Mauer said. “I loved talking to people and gaining a better understanding of how the rest of the world lives.”

Getting acclimated to the international game took some adjusting. The Camels suffered a couple of injuries along the way. Shanley sliced her toe, missing the last couple of games. Talia Wheeler ´09 proved turf was safer than surf after her surf board blew into her face, scraping her forehead. Fortunately, she was not hurt. Gretchen Mayer ´09 thought the team showed its resiliency, taking the bumps and bruises in stride.

Despite the injuries and adversity, the Camels still managed to make the most of their time together down under. Linnea Camerota ´08 was impressed with the level of competition that the team faced and used the experience to prepare for the 2006 NESCAC season. “Competing against these Australians, who have been playing since they could walk, was great for us, because it showed us all a different level of play,” Camerota said. “Being with your teammates everyday makes you feel even closer to them because you are having an amazing experience halfway across the world together.”


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