BERKELEY – Another season of California field hockey is on the horizon, and for a change of pace the Golden Bears will hold their preseason camp at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center before opening the season on August 29th.
The Chula Vista OTC is the resident home for USA archery, BMX, men’s field hockey, rugby and Paralympic track & field while also hosting a variety of other USA national teams throughout the year. California head coach Shellie Onstead and assistants Malachi Mahan and Austin Pile have spent plenty of time in Chula Vista as representatives for the women’s national team (Onstead) and as players for the men’s national team (Mahan and Pile), but with one third of the roster hailing from the San Diego area, many of the Golden Bear players will enjoy heading back to a place that they have practiced at earlier in the prep careers as well.
“I had to train there a lot growing up,” All-American Andrea Earle, a native of San Diego, said. “I’m excited to go back after five years. It’s going to be so nice to not only train there but to see all of the other athletes that are training at the center right now.”
Eight of Cal’s roster of 22 hail from San Diego County, but the trip will also be a first not only for the out-of-town Golden Bears but also for many of those from within the county such as Escondido native Courtney Hendrickson, the reigning NorPac West Defensive Player of the Year.
“I’m excited to see it for the first time,” Hendrickson said. “I know some of the parents are coming out to watch practices, so it’s going to be exciting.”
Before flying south, the Bears met Tuesday for the first time for what Onstead dubs “Christmas in August” as the team received their equipment for the season while also getting the chance to catch up with each other after the summer break.
“Everybody is super excited to return,” Hendrickson said. “We got a bunch of gear today. It’s always fun. We got thrown back into it, but it’s exciting. More than anything, it’s going to be fun going to Chula Vista.”
The goal for this season is to have a year where everyone stays healthy and is able to contribute. Injuries played a key role throughout the 2013 season, derailing standout years for many players like Earle, sophomore Nicole Henriksson, junior Clara Goni, redshirt junior Nicole Wallstedt and two-time reigning NorPac West Offensive Player of the Year Lara Kruggel.
“None of our players are injured right now, so we’re starting out as a full squad which hasn’t happened in a long time,” Earle said. “I can’t remember the last time I was healthy a whole season. To play one last time and soak up the travelling experience will be great this season. It’s going to be a fun season.”
After returning from Chula Vista, the fun begins August 29 against Fairfield in a game that will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks as part of a Bay Area field hockey doubleheader at Stanford.