Categorized | State Side

Like a Hurricane

Although the southeastern coastline hasn’t been hit with torrential downpours and strong winds in the last couple of weeks, don’t count on hurricane season being over just yet. A powerful force is brewing right here in East Lansing, and it is prepared to flatten everything that gets in its way.
The Michigan State Field Hockey team has been virtually unstoppable this season, posting their best start in 25 years.
[actionshot] Winning is nothing new to this team. Under head coach Michele Madison, the team won a share of the Big Ten title in 2003 and reached the NCAA final four in 2002. Individual players earned top honors in the league both years. Young women come from all over America and the world for a chance to play on one of the country’s greatest teams.
Still, for all their hard work, the team’s stellar season has gone almost completely under the radar. Despite their incredible record, the local press seems unwilling to give them their fair share of coverage. They garner only short news briefs while higher profile and often-losing MSU teams have gobbled up more than their share of the sports page.
Luckily, media attention is not something the women are worried about.
“We don’t focus on it,” Jessica Miller, a psychology junior, said. “We know we don’t get much press but we kind of expect that.” She also attributed the lack of coverage to a lack of knowledge about the sport, since very few high schools in Michigan have field hockey teams.
Instead of focusing on the papers, they focus on winning. And they make it look good. The team was recently ranked number one in the nation until a heartbreaking overtime loss to defending national champions Wake-Forest. Now ranked fourth, they look to battle back to the top. Just over half way through the season, they have a good chance to do just that.
[page] Where most teams struggle, the Spartans excel. With an 8-0 record on the road, and, after crushing Ohio State last weekend, the Spartans dominate the Big Ten. With this type of record you would think they had a special strategy for road success. Well they do; treat them like every other game.
“We play a lot on the road,” Miller said. “You just can’t slack because it’s an away game.” The team plans to prove slacking is not a problem on the road against Michigan. [page[
“It’s a good rivalry because both teams are good; both come to play,” Breanna Harpstead, a biochemistry junior, said. “But, we don’t lose any sleep over it.”
[spotlight] Sleeplessness might be a problem in rival teams, however, as State shapes up to be this season’s team to beat.
On Tuesday October 5, 2004 the Spartans humiliated Central Michigan right here at home with a final score of eight to two. Never during their commanding lead over the Chippewas did the team relax the pressure on their opponents. With zero seconds remaining in the second half, MSU scored on a penalty shot.
So is there any simple answer to why this year’s Spartans are so good?
“It’s easy, we’re the definition of ‘team’,” Miller said. Harpstead echoed the sentiment, saying that everyone on the team is there for the same reason. What a refreshing concept: a team devoted to reaching a common goal. If only all MSU teams embraced this ethic.
Coach Michele Madison said that the team is internally motivated, and they are on the field to win for each other as much as for themselves. Their hard work and determination is what drives Madison as well. “I’m here to help people believe in themselves that anything is possible,” she said. “With their support we make that a reality.”
She also said that when people do come to watch them play, they usually become fans. “It doesn’t take them long to realize, ‘wow these girls really play hard’,” Madison said. “Besides, Spartans love to see the home team win.”
As for the media, the coach would like to see more coverage of the team. She thinks it’s important for the team to see that people do care how they are playing. Any coverage is good because it is part of success. “If they want, they can come along for the ride,” Madison said. “We’ll even let them catch up to us.”
Your next chance to catch the MSU Field Hockey team in action is Saturday Oct. 9th right here in East Lansing. The women will be laying it on the line to maintain their undefeated status in the Big Ten against Penn State.
For up-to-date scores, highlights, player bios and more, be sure to check out www.msuspartans.com, and click on the Field Hockey link.

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