Senior Hadley Bell has scored a goal and logged two assists in the last three games. The midfielder chatted with VirginiaSports.com about how her time in Australia helped transform her game as well as the evolution of her responsibilities since taking to the pitch as a member of the Virginia Cavaliers.
You were 13 when you started playing field hockey. What prompted you to take up the sport?
I played soccer since I was really young and then I saw my cousin, Cameron, play field hockey and I wanted to be just like her, so I started playing. We also played in middle school gym class, so that's when I first saw it. Cameron eventually stopped playing and played lacrosse instead for a while. I tried lacrosse and hated it so I stuck with field hockey.
You lived in Australia for two years in the middle of high school. How much did that influence your growth as a field hockey player?
When I moved to Australia, I played a lot more there. It is a really big club sport there, so I played every weekend and trained twice a week year-round. My time in Australia was when I loved it the most and decided that I wanted to keep playing.
There is more finesse to the game there. They are more skillful and just basic skills are at a different level. They start out playing as kids and the whole family plays. It is a Sunday activity. Families will go out to the fields. While moms play, kids will be on the sidelines practicing stick skills. Basic skills are just awesome there.
It definitely opened my eyes up to see just how good someone can be. The level of competition showed me how I wanted to compete as well as the level I could get to, so it definitely pushed me to work hard and get to this level.
What was your favorite part about living in Australia?
My favorite parts were the beaches, the accents and the city. I lived in Sydney and the city was so pretty with the harbor and the bridge and everything.
Getting back to hockey, you are one of the more versatile players on the field. Talk us through the progression of the various roles you have played on the team.
I went on a cruise with my family through the fiords in New Zealand and it was beautiful, definitely the prettiest place I have been. We had to get in the water as a dare and it was freezing, worse than an ice bath. We just jumped in and back out.
We also went up to the Great Barrier Reef. I was too scared to scuba dive, so I snorkeled. We saw tons of pretty fish and a bunch of huge clams there and it was really beautiful. It was awesome.
I've always played midfield. In the beginning, I was always one of the backlines of the mid, so I would play more central and closer to the center back. That was a serious passing role. I started trying out striker, which was more one-on-one against the goalie, more of a scoring position. Then occasionally Coach Madison would put me as the right back, but that was once every month or so. Now I am playing more of an attacking mid position, so that is more passing and the transition between the defensive mid and the striker goes through me. I try to connect everyone together
A good example of that were your assists last week against North Carolina and Northwestern. Tell us about setting up those scores.
I think the two assists were pretty similar. I remember getting the ball from one of the other defensive mids out wide and just trusted one of the strikers would be at the far post, then knowing that as soon as I crossed the circle, I just needed to get it on pads so we could get deflections or past the goalie on the far post. Luckily, the girls were doing exactly what they were supposed to do and they were there and ready so it was perfect.
During the summer of 2011, you went to Vietnam with the Coach for College program. Tell us about your experiences there.
The Coach for College program which is an ACC-school student-athlete program which sends eight student-athletes in a group with two sessions at a time. I went with kids from Florida State, Wake Forest, BC, Duke, UNC and a couple of others. We went into rural Vietnam and taught at a school there. We taught one class subject and one sport, so I did biology and soccer.
The kids had no idea how to speak English. We taught with Vietnamese translators who were also university students. The translator's English was dodgy, so they weren't the best, but they understood basics.
It was just an incredible experience because we got to interact with these kids without actually speaking to them, so you had to guess what they were trying to say and body language was really important. It was just an awesome learning experience and seeing that part of the world was really cool. We spent four weeks there, three at the school and one traveling through the larger cities of Vietnam.
What was your favorite part of the Coach For College experience?
I loved all the troublemakers; the little boys were so funny. They would do something wrong, but didn't know what we were saying. If we were trying to reprimand them, they would know by the tone our voice, so they would like at us really innocently like "I didn't do it." They were so cute. The little girls were really concerned about their skin, so they didn't want to play in the sun and would hide in the shade and wear these big hats and long sleeves while we were sweating. We would try to get them to play, but they didn't want to because they didn't want to be in the sun. It was really cute and really funny.
You are majoring in English with a minor in art history. What are you looking to do after you finish with field hockey?
I am studying abroad next semester in London. I love to travel and England is probably the top place I want to go, so I am excited to go there. I have been before and love it, so I wanted to go back.
Long term, I decided over the summer I would try to go to graduate school for interior architecture and design. That is where I am headed now, so the English major is just good basic education for history and art which I am interested in.
Interior architecture is less physics. It's the interior space, so you still need to know math and what can and cannot fit in certain spaces, but it is more design and more superficial decisions like where the carpets should go and stuff like that. I am looking at grad schools in California, New York and overseas, all places where I would like to be for a long time after I finish school.