April 12, 2013
The Cavaliers wrapped up their spring practices by hosting the Commonwealth Cup tournament on Sunday, April 7. The team began training in February to prepare for the Big Apple International Indoor Championship, held Feb. 16-17 in Feasterville, Pa. They also played a two-day tournament at Duke in March.
Head coach Michele Madison sat down with VirginiaSports.com to discuss her thoughts on the spring.
What are the goals of your spring practices and scrimmages?
"The spring is about developing the player so the team gets better. They work on passing, receiving and all the basic skills that are specific to what a player needs. I'm coming up with a plan for the summer for how they can further develop it. For the team, we work on team focus and how they can work together. Individually, they all work so hard. You say `jump' and they say `how high' and they'll give everything they have. We just have to teach them how to talk to each other. Sometimes I tell them `If you could text her, what would you say? Text her right now.' So we're trying to get them out of that electronic-age mindset and what they've grown up with. What you say, hear, and feel is important and if you don't put it out there, you can't build a connection and you can't get chemistry going to get that trust that a team needs. So it was back to the basics with communication and trying to work together. I can't wait to see what this team will do if we can get them to maximize the sum of the parts."
You started the spring by playing in an indoor hockey tournament in February. What was the thought behind that?
"We do indoor really to start with some camaraderie and get everything going with some competitive experience because it's a competitive tournament. It's fun, it's a little different and it makes your hands go a little faster. It's only about two or three weeks and then we go back to outdoor."
Then you played in a two-day tournament down at Duke?
"Yes. The weather was pretty bad on that second day, which is what I think all of us remember about the tournament. But over the two days, we play nine 30-minute games, or three-and-a-half games, so it gets a lot of players touches on the ball. We get to run through the team to get them a lot of exposure."
What has been the biggest changes you have seen in the team from the fall?
"The freshmen are sophomores, the sophomores are juniors, the juniors are seniors - that they all grew up a little bit. Hockey-wise, someone that has just exploded onto the scene is Chloe Pendlebury. She's day-in, day-out on top of it. She is one of the leaders on the team, on the field and off. Maddie DeCerbo had some good moments in the second tournament, she's really coming together with some bright spots. We're trying to get her to connect those small bright spots to make one big bright spot. Some are just waiting to break out of their shell, like Hadley Bell has so much talent and it's just a matter of her believing in herself. She, and some of the others, have so much talent, they just have to be brave enough to put it out there day in and day out and make the mistakes that make you great."
Have you been working on any position changes this offseason?
"We've tried Carissa Vittese at sweeper. I just want to branch out there, plus, Carissa has skills. She can hit it, she can sweep it, she can throw it, she can eliminate, she can communicate, she reads the game well. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, `let's have Carissa at sweeper and just try her there'. I think Carissa likes it. We would like to put Elly Buckley up front to score goals. She needs to get back in that mode."
What kind of training plans does the team have this summer?
"USA Filed Hockey's High Performance Training Center has its tryouts here at UVa this month and we will have several players trying out for that. It's a program that identifies and trains potential National Team athletes through comprehensive training and skill enhancement sessions, as well as premier level competitions, in regional areas so they won't have to travel too far if they make it, probably some places in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland. Some of the players are also trying to make the U-21 National Team which is playing in the World Cup in August. Hadley Bell, I think, is going to Australia for an internship, so she's going to play over there."
When does the whole team get back to work in August?
"We will bring the leaders and the freshmen in for one day and just try and get them acclimated a tiny bit before they're thrown into the sauce pan, the boiling pot, on the 13th with our first game on the 27th or 28th, so with school starting it's only two weeks. There will be a lot of surprises I'm sure, which can be very exciting."
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