Senior Elizabeth Hanks sat down with VirginiaSports.com to talk about her field hockey career, from its start in mini camp through her time in the orange and blue, her future in sales and trading as well as the work she has done in setting up UVa Field Hockey Breast & Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day in conjunction with Sunday's 1 p.m. game against William & Mary.
When did you start playing field hockey?
I did mini-camps in fifth and sixth grade, but I really started playing in seventh grade on our middle-school team. I really got into club in high school, which is when I started focusing on field hockey. Before that, I was playing soccer, lacrosse and basketball. So that's what brought me to Virginia and I loved it immediately. I have loved all of my four years here.
What made you decide to focus on field hockey over the other sports?
I think field hockey requires a lot more skill than other sports. I had fun playing a lot of the other sports, but to me, field hockey is much more interesting to me to watch because of all of those rules, the ones that some people complain about when they don't know why the whistle is blowing. To me, that makes it so much more interesting and challenging. Field hockey was also huge in my area, so that was a big factor.
What is your favorite part about playing field hockey?
This last summer, you had an internship. What were you doing?
To me, it is really rewarding to be a motivator and cause a spark. Whether it is recovering a ball or getting a big ball into the circle, I like to cause some big spark that maybe changes the pace of the game. Sometimes it is luck. Sometimes it is hard work. Either way, it's great to change the pace of the game.
In my career here, last year was a big year for me, having a bigger role than previous years, which happens as you grow older in college field hockey. It's really competitive. Every year, we have had a really great team and things change all the time. Being a junior in college, it felt good to really understand things. Coming into college field hockey, you don't really realize how important some of the strategic parts of the play are, so that really takes time. You need to go through repetitions and click with the teammates who already understand it.
I was working in New York City with PNC Bank in a group called Asset-Backed Securities. People are more familiar with mortgage-backed securities, which played a part in the financial crisis. In asset-backed securities, there is a huge side of risk that has to be analyzed. PNC has a good reputation for their group in asset-backed securities. It was a lot of financial modeling and structuring their risk. Obviously, I wasn't given too much responsibility, but I was doing practice things to be able to understand what they do in real cases and doing some work to help out on real and live cases as well. It was long hours, but I learned so much.
You have accepted a job offer in another area of the financial sector, correct?
Yes. During the summer, we were also allowed to express interest in other areas of PNC Bank. I have always been interested in sales and trading. The Asset-Backed Securities Group was more on the side of investment banking. I was really attracted to the fast pace of sales and trading, like the stock market. The stock market is actually equities and I'll be in the foreign exchange group, but it is that same idea of being on the trading floor with a really fast pace. You have to be on your toes at all times. I think that having played a college sport and being busy all the time has really attracted me to that sort of environment. I'll be working in Philadelphia, which is good for me. I am glad I lived in New York one summer and can say I have done that, but Philadelphia is near my home in Hershey, Pa. My sister conveniently lives in Philly. It's a great location for me.
In 2012, you studied international business during a summer abroad in Florence, Italy. What was the biggest take-away from that experience?
It was the exposure to different cultures and how different life can be, like air conditioning isn't a normal thing. At the same time, there were super-friendly people and a real love for culture. There were so many cultural events that were also so historical, I felt like I was at a Renaissance Faire sometimes. On the business side, I learned how different economies can affect all of the world economies, how all of the global economies are connected. It was interesting being there while Italy's economy wasn't in the best shape and seeing how that affected the investments that people made here.
As part of your minor, you are working on a special event for Sunday's game against William & Mary. Tell us about that.
I am doing a project as part of my leadership minor. It's a 15-credit minor and for our capstone course, we have to do a big leadership practicum that is very open-ended. You can choose anything for the leadership project. I had to propose it, get approval and write a big paper about what it means and all the things that go into organizing an event. Last season, our team started a breast and ovarian cancer awareness day as a last-minute thing. We all wore shirts and just did a recognition of breast and ovarian cancer. We kind of have a few special connections on our team with teammates and one of our assistants having relatives who have experienced breast cancer or ovarian cancer. It felt like something special to me that would be a great cause for anybody, but was connected to me for my teammates as well.
For my project, I have come up with these flyers that have facts about breast cancer and ovarian cancer that people might not know. I figured if they see it on our Facebook event or on this flyer, they will scan it and learn something. The biggest goal of my project is to try to relay the fact that these cancers are very treatable and the five-year-survival rates are high if they are caught early. If they know that, they can look out for it. We are going to wear t-shirts in pink and teal colors for breast cancer and ovarian cancer at the game on Sunday.