Even in the midst of one of the best seasons the Columbia field hockey program has ever seen, there's always room for improvement. That's why head coach Marybeth Freeman and her staff reached out to international superstar Jamie Dwyer from the Australian National Team to conduct a clinic with the squad on Sept. 29.
"It was a special night for Columbia hockey to be able to work with Jamie in that small of setting," said Freeman. "To have the best player in the world execute the skills and discuss the importance of basic fundamentals truly made for an awesome night. I know this experience is something our student-athletes will never forget."
Dwyer has been named the world's best field hockey player five times in his tremendous career and has won Olympic gold (2004) and bronze twice (2008 and 2012) for Australia. He also led the Aussies to the World Cup, the most prestigious event outside of the Olympics in the sport, in 2010. Dwyer has spent the majority of his professional career starring in the Netherlands, where field hockey is the second most popular sport.
At the clinic, Dwyer focused on improving fundamental skills and put the Lions through several drills where they worked on the technical aspects of the game such as dribbling, passing, and receiving. Afterwards, they took those skills and added game-like situations where the squad worked on communication, individual defense, and movement on-and-off the ball.
"To have such as an amazing player, like Jamie, help us focus on the most important aspects of the game is a fantastic opportunity," said sophomore defender Lauren Skudalski. "He stressed how important the fundamental skills are, and how the best players are the ones that excel in the basics. Just by watching Jamie, we were able to imitate his technique to the best of our ability and understand what we needed to do in order to make improvements to our game. And as a team, if each of us continues to work on those fundamental skills that Jamie stressed, it will allow us to challenge each other and become a stronger team with every practice."
The Columbia field hockey program would also like to give a special thank you to the NEFHA (Northeast Field Hockey Association) for assisting in arranging Jamie to come to the Baker Athletic Complex.
Columbia returns to Ivy League action this Friday, October 12 at Penn. Game-time is set for 6:15 p.m.