Senior sweeper Carissa Vittese sat down with VirginiaSports.com before the Cavaliers' final 2013 regular-season game to talk about her field hockey career as well as sharing her thoughts on this Friday's match-up with No. 1 Maryland.
When did you first start playing field hockey?
I first started playing in sixth grade. I started playing because [my sister, former UVa All-American] Michelle started playing, and of course I always wanted to do what Michelle was doing. I think what really got me into field hockey was roller hockey. I started that when I was six. I started playing field hockey because you could continue to play in college, and it was the closest thing to roller hockey.
Do you miss roller hockey?
Yes, I miss it a lot. I'm still in contact with a lot of people that I used to play with.
What is the best thing about roller hockey?
I guess the physical contact. Playing field hockey, you can't really do anything that physical. I miss all of the traveling and playing with boys. I miss playing with the boys because guys are not as bad as holding grudges and don't get as angry.
What about field hockey appealed to you when you were first playing?
I liked the speed of the game and hitting the ball. We used to play on grass and it was terrible, but I loved hitting the ball around and scoring goals.
How long did it take you to decide that you were going to commit to Virginia?
My parents were a hundred percent wanting me to go to UVa. Michelle was here, so it was sort of like a second home for me. I would always come and visit the campus and I loved the school. I loved the team, too, because I knew a lot of them since Michelle played here. I did visit other schools, but I loved UVa and committed at the end of my junior year."
You became a defender once you started playing at UVa, talk about that transition.
I played striker at a few games, then Michele Madison was looking for a right and left back my freshman year. She decided to try me there because they were having trouble getting the ball out of the back. It was a good transition. I love it back there and I think that forwards are easier to beat than backs are. I love playing back now.
What is your favorite thing about field hockey?
My favorite part is the team at UVa. I love the team here and the dynamic. The vibes I get from the team are incredible. They are all my best friends and my family. If I had to say the game as a whole, I would say the speed of the game and the great chemistry we have on the field.
You are the go-to person for penalty strokes. How much pressure do you feel in that role?
It's a little nerve wracking and a little scary, but it depends if you are leading the game or not. I continue with the same routine and try to hit that top spot.
You scored the game-decider in the Richmond sudden-death shootout this year. Tell us about making that attempt.
I didn't want to go first. I made Caleigh [Foust] go first. I got very nervous but the Richmond girl in front of me missed hers. I knew I just had to go around the goalie and get it in the net. It was a great feeling. We all celebrated after.
You got to compete in the Women's National Championships this summer and train with the US U-21 Team. How was that?
I played for the Mid-Atlantic/South team. We had a great team with National Team players and Olympians, like Michelle and Paige Selenski. We went on to win the championship, which was exciting. Afterward, I got invited to train with the U-21 team and made it to the final 20 players. It was great experience, I learned a lot and I got a lot of experience playing in the midfield. It was unfortunate I couldn't make the team that went to the Junior World Cup tournament, but I was able to train more for the upcoming season. It was also nice to play with my younger sister, Tara."
What are your future plans?
I have no idea what my future plans are. I'm trying to figure out more once the season is over. I have no idea if my plan is field hockey or trying to find a job.
You have a big game this Friday against Maryland. How excited are you to take on the Terps?
We are really excited. After the ACC's last year where they beat us, we just want to come out and beat them. We really want to go out there, fight hard and get ready for this year's ACC Tournament.