Michelle Vittese and the sixth-ranked field hockey team continue their five-game road swing this week with two games in the Buckeye state. The Cavaliers will battle Kent State (2-3) at 1 p.m. Friday before heading south face Ohio (1-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday. Vittese recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to chat about the season so far, playing in the Junior World Cup and her favorite book.
Question: How would you describe the season so far?
Vittese: Obviously we have come away with four wins, so that is a plus. But I think we are still shaking the rust off and need to continue to improve and still click together as a team. We have good players and we have a great team.
Question: How tough is it to play on the road, especially now in the midst of five straight road games?
Vittese: All week you look forward to your next game in practice. You think about the teams you are playing and what you have to do to be successful against them. That's how I prepare.
Question: How is the team chemistry this year?
Vittese: We all get along so well and that really helps on the field because we trust and respect each other. It doesn't matter who they are, you know you can trust them with the ball.
Question: What was it like to play in the Junior World Cup in Boston this summer?
Vittese: It was No. 1 on the list of the best things I have done. It was so much fun to play with some of the best hockey players in the world. It made us realize where we stand compared to other nations from around the world. It was just a great experience.
Question: What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
Vittese: Obviously you get a feeling for the things that work and the things that don't, but the main thing is just knowing you have to play hard 100 percent of the time. Every country has their own style and structure, and you are able to learn from all of them, and bring it back with you.
Question: How did you get started playing field hockey?
Vittese: I played roller hockey from about age seven until I was 16 or so. When I was in fifth grade, my dad said to me, 'you're playing the wrong sport, you're never going to be able to go to the Olympics!' Roller hockey isn't a popular college sport; it's more of a club thing. I tried ice hockey but I didn't like it. Field hockey is actually very similar to roller hockey and it was easy for me to transition.
Question: You come from a pretty field hockey-oriented family, don't you?
Vittese: My younger sisters both play. Tara is a senior in high school this year and Carissa is in eighth grade. Carissa is going to be so good - so much better than I am. I am really excited for them both. My mom played in high school and my dad - well, sometimes he plays in pick-up games!
Question: What made you decide to come to Virginia?
Vittese: Everyone says this, but really the balance between academics and athletics was what was most appealing. And with field hockey, this program is building. It's more fun to go to a team that is going to be good rather than one that is already good and has all these expectations. I was excited to be part of a growing program.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa thus far?
Vittese: Art. I really like it because it's the one of the most fun things I do. It's all about being creative and not about tests and papers and grades. My drawing 161 class was just looking at a still life and putting it on paper. I took AP art for two years in high school and had a portfolio. And I'm really into fashion.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Vittese: I like to travel and see places I haven't seen before. I like to go shopping and I really like to read. I don't have a lot of time now but this summer I read quite a bit.
Question: What is your favorite book?
Vittese: The Time Traveler's Wife. It is the best book ever. I saw the movie - but the book is so phenomenal. You just can't put that on screen.