door: Justin lafleur, Lehigh Sports Communications
This fall there are four Dutch on the Lehigh hockey roster.
While four years ago Link-Havas It was a first in the history of the program and today the pipeline is more robust than ever. It’s a pipeline that lasted even during the pandemic – a testament to Lehigh and his field hockey program.
This fall, Havas (Maastricht) will return for her fifth year and she will go to graduate school. Carpentry Sarah Ponthesse (Old Biggerland), second year Monkfish Smorenberg (Rotterdam) and first year students Guusje Hogendoorn (Apeldoorn) Also called the homeland of the Netherlands. How did they find Lehigh?
Their stories are similar in some ways, but different in others.
“Every Dutch student who wants to study in the United States is married to an agency in the Netherlands,” says Havas. “The agency is responsible for matching you with different universities. I had to make a video of me playing, and I had to take the SAT and TOEFL, which is an international English test.
From there, the Havas profile was created by the agency, which was sent to several college coaches in the United States.
“So just wait and see what the coaches are up to and are interested in having you on their team,” Havas said. “I had six or seven schools that said they could have a place for me.
“Lehigh was one of the first schools to show interest.”
The working philosophy of Mountain Hawks is developed in the Netherlands, like all student-athletes.
“We strive to find the ones that not only fit in with our culture but also enhance it,” Lehigh coach said. Caitlin dallmayr. “It takes a lot of work to find a student-athlete who wants to take a closer look at our program, choosing not only to see the potential growth of the program, but also He is Program growth.
Because of this, Havas was strongly drawn to Lehigh – the impact it might have on the unfolding of a rebuilding program (which she certainly did).
“The decision to choose Lehigh was not too difficult as the Skype conversations with Coach seemed very appealing,” Havas said. “I felt like it was a bigger picture… something bigger than me. Lots of other conversations [with other schools] Male We expect to become champions every season. What I liked about Lehigh was that there was a lot of room to grow and a lot of room to build a better program. “
From the start, Havas intended to make a decision almost entirely, relying heavily on long and in-depth conversations with his college coaches.
“The coaching staff at Lehigh mostly told me about the campus, the team and the culture,” she said. “I did the same with other schools. Eventually you get some deals for the schools and it’s time to make a decision.
Two years after Havas, Bonthuis found herself in a similar situation – via an agency to get her name in Division I field hockey programs in the United States.
The only but important difference for Ponthos is that she decided to visit him.
“In November of my senior year of high school, my dad and I toured the schools so I could see the campuses, the environment, and the people there,” Sarah said. “I had to make a decision within a week. When I got back my dad and I had seven hours, so I made a list of all the pros and cons.
When we got to Amsterdam he made the decision.
Lehigh addresses future student athletes in several ways. Havas chose Lehigh with almost confidence, while Bonthuis also chose Lehigh after a personal visit.
“The campus is beautiful,” Ponthes said. “When I walked I saw myself walking there” [next year]. “
During his visit, Ponthuis only met the Dutch players of the then team – Havas, as well as Sophie Mielinck (van De Bilt).
“I am sold,” Ponthes said. “Lehigh was the place to go.”
Compared to Havas’ hypothetical recruitment, Bonthuis’s experiment was a different path to the same conclusion.
“Sarah went to American schools, so we met her and made contact with her and her family,” said Dallmeier. “We then planned a recruiting trip to the Netherlands and got to see her again in her play environment, which was a great experience for us. “
The similarities and differences in the recruitment of Havas and Bonthuis is truly an example of the unique recruitment process from the Netherlands.
“Every day we receive different profiles from different agencies highlighting international athletes eager to come to the United States,” said Dallmayr. “We sort them out and find the graduate student-athletes first, then move on to the game movie rating. The game movie can be difficult because it’s easy to show your strengths and hide your weaknesses just by showing them off.” .
“You can’t get a realistic picture of an athlete from just a few clips of the movie, so there’s a huge risk involved in the process. We had to base our decision on taking Lenke to Lehigh from the movie, checking references, and making Skype calls (now Zoom calls). ”
For Bonthuis, it certainly helped to have Havas on his list of countries and cultures. And with Sarah’s decision to come to Lehigh, came the impetus that saw Smurrenburg and Hoogendoorn follow in her footsteps over the next two years.
Due to the momentum, a guide from the Netherlands is now waiting on campus (for everyone except Havas, as she was the first).
“Link had the most powerful mentor role for me during my first week in the US,” Ponthuis said. “You also helped a lot with the preparation; we met in summer [heading into my first year] And I went for a test drive and what to pack. She sent me this whole list of things I can’t forget to bring.
Once Bonthuis arrived on campus to prepare for the season, she was fine. Still, it can be intimidating to be away from home.
This is where Havas’ mentorship began.
“I slept in his room during the first week of the preseason,” says Bonthuis. “She said if you want to talk about something just talk to me. We can have our conversations in Dutch at night because I’m sure you will miss it with your family.
“She was amazing to me.”
For the Dutch, the language barrier is a bit of a challenge, but not too much, as English is taught in the Netherlands from an early age.
“Everyone in the Netherlands speaks Dutch, but since no one else in the world speaks it, we have to learn other languages,” says Ponthuis. “Because English is the most important language in the world, we started learning English very early on. “
Bonthuis was in high school when she started her formal English classes.
“I studied bilingual in high school, so I had bilingual education for six years (secondary school starts at age 12 in the Netherlands), which has helped me a lot,” said Ponthuis. “When I came to the United States, I was very good at pedagogical English; I knew what everyone in my classes was saying. I needed to know how to communicate in the field, but I learned that in a few weeks.
“You start talking to your teammates and friends and it’s happening without you even knowing it. “
With the addition of Smorenburg, Sarah’s role was reversed.
“Sarah did a great job with Lotte,” Havas said. ” There was no need for more. I certainly hope it will stay that way in the future; it is a great opportunity to guide as a senior. It’s also great to have this newcomer to the team who can see things from their point of view.
“I hope it will continue and I think so. I hope Lotte will pass it on to Guusje and Guusje will take the next step.
It says a lot about Lehigh and the people of Lehigh, that the Dutch pipeline will only get stronger during the pandemic (this is the time when you would naturally be anxious about traveling long distances from home). One of the main reasons for this is the coaching staff, who care deeply about their student-athletes as individuals.
“[In March of 2020]Havas said, referring to Lehigh’s initial announcement of a two-week shutdown before quickly moving on to the rest of the semester as the severity of the pandemic becomes more apparent. “I felt super supported by the team and the coaches. They were waiting to get home and it didn’t matter if I couldn’t be back on time. This situation would have been better if you had been at home.
“They were absolutely right.”
Havas felt supported in every decision she made.
“It was not difficult to make the decision to go home because I knew they supported me and understood me,” she said.
Similar thoughts went to the manager of Bonthuis, who was on spring break in San Francisco before returning to campus when the news broke.
“I was on the phone with my dad and he didn’t think it would be over in two weeks,” Sarah said. “I just want to go home in such difficult times, so I immediately texted the coach to say I was going home. She said it was a smart decision and that she just wanted me to be safe and at home with my loved ones.
“The coach has supported me a lot throughout this period – and also when I said I wanted to leave the fall season (2020),” Ponthuis continued. “I felt like you couldn’t make a bad decision.
“You have to do what’s best for you and do something that’s right for you – mentally and physically. “
College is an opportunity to grow in many ways, and Lehigh provides this environment for all of his student-athletes. Lehigh’s reputation grew within the hockey community, not only locally, but internationally.
“Over the past couple of years I’ve had a bunch of girls who know me, see me on Instagram, or know mum or dad, and say they are considering going to the US and ask what I recommend.” , Bonthuis mentioned. . “The first thing I say is: do it. This is honestly one of the best things that has ever happened to me. When I’m in Lehigh I say to myself everyday, oh my god, this is such an adventure.
“I am very lucky to have experienced this with a great family team.”
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