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Field hockey team builds bonds, learns new skills during trip to Spain

June 03, 2020
Field Hockey Team 2020 group shot

Trips like this have been delayed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Abby Piotrowski ’23 was committed to playing field hockey in college. The native of Easton, Pennsylvania, has been playing since seventh grade, and after spending an overnight with members of the York College of Pennsylvania field hockey team, Abby knew she’d found the right place.

“Knowing people on the team before I even started classes made the transition to college easier,” Abby says. “It was so nice to have people I could ask questions or show me around campus. It made York feel like home when I knew I had people to support me.”

That opportunity to bond as a team can be so impactful to how players perform on the field, says Head Coach Katie Fost. Ever since Katie came to York College three years ago, she’s been working to take that bonding experience even further by planning an international trip for her athletes. “It can be a big part of the recruiting process, and it’s huge in this sport,” Katie says. “I knew coming into 2020 that I would have a large group of first-year students, and it presented an opportunity to take that leap.”

Warmer climate ahead

Winter Break provided the perfect opportunity for the entire team, including the nine first-year students, to hop a plane for Spain and take part in a 10-day trip to warmer weather. With a plan to reduce the cost for the student-athletes, Katie made it a priority to fundraise from the start of her career at York College. That allowed the College to cover more than half the cost of the trip, including every meal.

During the trip, Abby and her teammates kept busy with three training sessions and three games. During the training sessions, coaches from Spain stepped in to teach them new tactics on ball control and defense. In addition to the sessions, they played teams of varying levels, including younger students who, Abby says, had an exceptional skill level, as well as an adult team.

A cultural experience

But the trip wasn’t all about working on the sport. The team also had ample time to be tourists, going on bike rides and taking cooking classes, as well as taking in the unique architecture. Fitting in so much activity made the trip busy, Abby says, but she received a rounded experience she appreciates even months after returning home. “It pushed me to not only try something new in terms of visiting a different culture but to bring home new skills that I can work on to improve my game,” she says.

All being well, Katie plans on trips abroad to become more of a common offering for the team, at least every four years. She sees the trips as an opportunity for York College to set itself apart with the added experiences that have come to be expected in the sport. “I’m fortunate to have a phenomenal group of young women who have had their bond amplified by this trip,” Katie says. “Getting outside their comfort zone and being open to new experiences has already impacted them in some really positive ways.”

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