Continue Your College Field Hockey Career By Playing Overseas
In the fall of 2014, Division I standout Amanda Dinunzio approached her last field hockey season at Penn State with high expectations—some disbelief, dread. “I knew I hadn’t reached my potential, and couldn’t be finished just like that,” said Dinunzio. “Field Hockey was my life.”
Elite playing opportunities are plentiful overseas – you don’t have to retire from field hockey after graduating university
Dinunzio’s situation is all too common for high performing athletes from the U.S. with its focus on elite college athletics. Each year, more than 400,000 NCAA athletes give their heart and soul to their sport, only for 99 percent of them to be forced into early retirement come graduation. The lack of competitive leagues for post collegiate play baffles most of the rest of the world, where elite playing opportunities, including vast club structures, abound. In these clubs, top teams field the best players they can recruit.
After finishing up at Penn State, Dinunzio threw her hat into the ring for the U.S. Women’s National Team. She was told she wasn’t ready yet and left with no playing opportunities state-side. Amanda’s resolve only deepened. Then USWNT assistant coach Janneke Schopman suggested Amanda seek an opportunity to play with her home club in Holland, HC Rotterdam.
“I am so thankful to Janneke for opening the door and for the support I had from my coaches at Penn State and parents,” said Dinunzio. “If not for them, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to go overseas. But the rest was on me. I was jumping into the unknown. ‘What would the team be like? Where would I live? Could I trust the setup the coach was promising? Would I make friends? The whole process was intimidating’”
With the right set up, playing abroad can be the most trans-formative experience
With palpable excitement, Amanda recalls stories of her games overseas, racing across Holland to matches, sharing post-match teas with opponents, coaching her junior girls and sharing meals with their families—even navigating a bike, metro and tram to get to practice. “I was only there six months but had many of the greatest experiences of my life.” She feels very fortunate to have lucked into a club that took such good care of her.
Language proved to be Dinunzio’s biggest barrier while playing overseas, but she overcame that with her traditional grit. “I became a much more experienced athlete,” mentioned Dinunzio. “I learned how to be a more versatile, flexible player and adjust to changes in drills and coaching tactics, all in a different language. And that has made all the difference in my growth as a player.”
Dinunzio’s leap into the unknown yielded amazing dividends, not the least of which was a spot on the USWNT. “If I had never gone to Holland, I wouldn’t have continued to play field hockey,” says Dinunzio. “I would not be the confident independent person I am today.”
Uru Sports is here to help athletes find playing positions of the right fit
If fellow field hockey player Ainsley McCallister has her way, more athletes like Dinunzio will have life changing overseas opportunities. McCallister founded Urū Sports, a reliable online platform that connects athletes with excellent playing opportunities– and teams with their next stars.
Urū Sports takes an intimidating recruiting process- one that is filled with unknowns and where athletes too often rely on word of mouth– and makes that process transparent.
Since its inception in 2016, Urū Sports has helped place more than 100 athletes from across the globe helping bolster teams’ talent. One of those teams was the Women’s Premier League at Reds Hockey Club in Perth, Australia.
“The fundamental issue is that both players and coaches are trying to make wise investments on incomplete information,” says Coach Kaye Goulding, former coach of the Reds. “Urū made it so much easier to find interested talent and to quickly gage the fit of the athletes to my team’s needs. The athlete we recruited through Urū was a great fit.”
“Urū wasn’t available to me when I decided to go abroad,” states Dinunzio. “But I would have loved to have known the right questions to ask and to have talked with a former player from my team. I could have set my expectations to the reality that awaited me.”
For now, Dinunzio’s future is playing for the United States, but she doesn’t discount the possibility of playing overseas. “Who knows, maybe at the end of my career I’ll go back for another season abroad. It was just so much fun.”
Go play field hockey overseas. You’ll gain so much more than you imagine.
“My advice to all seniors is if you have any desire to keep playing, like ANY feeling at all, go for it. Play Overseas. Because yes you are going to play hockey, but you’re going to gain so much more.”
McCallister agrees that the field hockey world awaits you. Check out Urū Sports and see for yourself!
No Borders. Just Sports.
This article is featured in the Winter 2018 issue of FHLife Magazine. To read more inspiring, knowledge-packed and fun features revolving around hockey, fitness, healthy eating and how to strengthen your game, subscribe to our quarterly publication by clicking here