Holland native Charlotte van den Broek and the No. 3 Virginia field hockey team hit the road for two games this week, beginning tonight at Richmond. The Cavaliers return to ACC play with a highly-anticipated matchup with No. 1 and reigning NCAA champion Maryland at 4 p.m. Friday in College Park, Md. van den Broek recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to talk about her transition to college life in the United States, her role on the team and how much she loves cookies.
Question: How has your transition been from high school in the Netherlands to college in the United States?
van den Broek: It was so overwhelming for me at first because there were so many new people, new tactics on the field, not to mention American culture. During preseason, it felt like a dream. But now, I know the team, I know the style of hockey more, I know my role. I love it here - there is so much attention on sports and athletics.
Question: How would you describe your role on the team?
van den Broek: At the start, when I was new, my role was just to learn. Now I know the system and play in the backfield with Floor (Vogels). For me it was important to improve my English so I would be able to talk to my teammates. In the back you see a lot of things happening on the field and it is important to be able to communicate.
Question: Is it true that you and Floor speak Dutch to each other while playing?
van den Broek: That's true, especially when there is an opponent in our neighborhood. Sometimes in panic situations, when it's just easier to say something in Dutch. But I try not to do it a lot because the other girls need to know what we are talking about. We speak in English a lot more than when the season started.
Question: Did you know each other before playing together at Virginia?
van den Broek: Oh yes. We played together starting when we were about eight years old and her mom was our coach. We have been playing defense together for a long time so we know each other well and can feel each other's presence back there. When I came here that feeling was immediately back and it's great to be able to play with her again.
Question: What was the process like for you deciding to come play hockey at UVa?
van den Broek: It was my last year of high school and I really didn't know what was next, what I wanted to study or how to combine hockey and school. There isn't a good combination of those two in Holland. Floor came back last year at Christmas time and was talking about her experience here. I was so impressed. Because of her I got in contact with Michele and we kept in touch. I had to take the SAT, and there was a lot of paperwork, but it all worked out. It was a crazy process but I found my place.
Question: What do you like best about the United States so far?
van den Broek: The cookies! Everybody here knows I love cookies. My teammates like to give me a hard time about that. And another thing I thought was crazy - I was in Wal-Mart buying some stuff for my dorm room and there was a McDonalds in the Wal-Mart! I also like the achievement. Everyone wants success here. What I don't like is that everyone rushes so much. You eat dinner in five minutes.
Question: How have classes been?
van den Broek: The first week I was staring at the professors wondering what they were saying. I would write words down I didn't know and then go look them up in my dictionary. I didn't know how I was going to figure everything out. But the reading has gotten easier. I'm really enjoying my criminology class.
Question: What do you miss the most?
van den Broek: I think sometimes I need a hug from my Dutch friends and family. I have so much contact with all of them through e-mail and Skype so that is a plus. The time is flying by. I am enjoying it so much that now I don't want it to go this fast. I want our season to last the whole year.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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