Field Hockey

Dishin’ the Turf – Behind the Scenes of Field Hockey Recruitment


This story was written by a Division I field hockey player.

Unless you have a sibling, relative, or close friend that has been recruited to play a sport at the collegiate level, navigating the athletic recruitment process can seem confusing.  Add field hockey (FH), a sport which many people mistake for lacrosse, into the conversation, and accurate advice may be difficult to find.  But not to worry, I am here to fill you in!

Growing up, I dreamed of playing Division I softball, and it wasn’t until 8th grade that I got heavily involved in field hockey.  During my sophomore year of high school, I seriously competed and reached out to both softball and field hockey coaches, because I wasn’t sure which sport I wanted to play in college.  Consequently, the major Division I FH coaches did not know my name, because I came onto the recruiting scene later than most players my age (The top Division I field hockey programs begin to offer scholarships as early as two years in advance to each incoming class. In some rare cases, offers are even extended to 10th graders).  Nonetheless, before the start of my junior year I made the decision to pursue field hockey exclusively (I am a huge proponent of dual sport athletes. Softball is a major contributor to who I am today. If you are in a similar situation, pursue both sports until you cannot maintain the level needed to play at a Division I, II, or III institution).

In order to put myself in the best position possible to play Division I, my parents encouraged me to join a club team three hours away from my house, the Jersey Intensity (We made this choice to find better competition. In order to improve, it is essential to play with and against people who challenge you every day. Additionally, it is easier to get recruited if you are on a top club team that college coaches trust to produce talented players).  I also attended the major tournaments including, The National Hockey Festival, The Disney Field Hockey Showcase, and The National Indoor Tournament.  In conjunction, I participated in Futures. 

When September 1st of my junior year rolled around (the first day college coaches can e-mail you expressing interest) I received letters from several Division I programs.  This helped me get a better feel for universities that were also interested in me; because, many of the letters I received were from schools I had started to dialogue with my sophomore year.  Immediately, my mom and I sat down and created a spreadsheet of college contacts to stay organized.  Here is what the table I used looks like!


Coach in Contact

E-mail Address

Shown Interest

I am Interested



State University

Emma Jones

Letter 9/1


Invited to Junior Day



Ivy College



Letter 9/1

Personal email 9/12


Scheduling visit (TBA)

University of State

Erin Smith



Sent player bio for Festival


Before each tournament I sent out emails to colleges I wanted to pursue, in addition to coaches that had contacted me (It is important to keep as many options open for as long as possible, because no commitment is official until a National Letter of Intent is signed).  After performing well at Festival and the Disney Showcase, coaches started inviting me to junior days and visits to get a feel for their respective university, campus, and field hockey program (I often found junior days to be frustrating, because they are much less personalized in comparison to a visit where you are the only recruit. However, I could tell which coaches were the most interested in me, even at a junior day, because I had an individual meeting with the staff before I left).

I received scholarship offers from six universities; but by the beginning of April I narrowed my list down to a DI university in Virginia and a DI university in Illinois.  In order to decide between these two colleges, I made an additional trip back to both places (Deciding which college to attend can be very stressful, but don’t worry! You will get a feel for each team once you make a personal visit to the school).  After visiting the school in Illinois for a second time, I knew that I wanted to go there.  At breakfast, I told my parents of my decision.  Then, they let me know that this is also where they saw me fitting in (Although my mom and dad played a huge part in the recruitment process, they waited to tell me their thoughts, because they wanted me to make my own decision without their opinions persuading me).  Because Emma (Head Coach at the school in Illinois) had left for a meeting, I committed by telling the assistant coaches, and leaving a signed napkin with my answer on her desk (she had joked earlier in the week about being known for signing contracts anytime, anyplace. It’s never a bad idea to do something worth remembering during the recruitment process – she still has the napkinJ).  Once I left campus and returned home, I made phone calls to all coaches that had made me financial offers (It is always important to be professional. Make the phone calls yourself. Coaches don’t want to hear from your parents!  Also keep in mind: even though you are only in high school, these coaches are great contacts, and you never know when you may encounter them again).  Everyone was very understanding, and most were congratulatory.

A year later, on February 6, 2010 I signed my National Letter of Intent and officially became a member of the team. Although the recruiting process was extremely stressful at times, looking back on the experience it was worth every hardship.  Not only was this a great opportunity to conduct myself in a professional setting for the first time, but I accomplished my lifelong aspiration of playing a Division I sport.

Whatever people tell you can’t happen, wherever you are in the recruiting process, do not stop for anyone or anything until you make it where you want to go.  Going through the recruitment process and eventually becoming a collegiate athlete is an experience found nowhere else.

Are you a field hockey athlete looking to make the jump to the next level, dealing with some of the challenges discussed above? Call 866-495-7727 or click here to create a free recruiting profile.

The names of all coaches, colleges, and players mentioned in this article have been changed.

About the author
Aaron Sorenson