Bobcat Field Hockey Practicing In Temporary Home

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Ohio field hockey has begun the 2013 season in new territory, figuratively and literally.

Figuratively speaking, the Bobcats are in new territory because of their record. Ohio dropped its first two games on the season for the first time since 2009, meaning that redshirt senior Andrea Biegalski is the only member of the team who has experienced such a start.

But the Bobcats are optimistic about the rest of their season and are determined to make the changes necessary to return to their winning ways.

Literally speaking, the Bobcats are in new territory, because their playing surface at Pruitt Field is out of commission and, for the time being, the team is practicing on the tennis courts beside the Ping Recreation Center.

Yes, the Golf and Tennis Center is the (temporary) home of Ohio Field Hockey.

But these Bobcats, and their coach Neil Macmillan, are resilient and are determined to make the best out of a less-than-ideal field situation.

“I feel like we’re going to be better at tighter skills,” Macmillan said. “We don’t have quite the width of a normal field, so it is a bit of a challenge.  We’ll have to make sure that when we go to away venues, we spend our time organizing ourselves, putting the 11 aside and making sure that we’re on point.”

The new turf at Pruitt Field was projected to be installed well before the season began.  But damage to the underlying elastic layer and an aggregate base extended the project while they were replaced.

“The hope was that we could have just re-done the ‘e-layer’ and laid the new turf,” Macmillan said, “and we would have been done with plenty of time to spare, but it just didn’t work out that way.”

So instead, the southernmost tennis area is now covered in turf and its three nets have been removed, replaced by two field hockey goals.  But despite the weird location, many players, including Biegalski are taking to the new practice surface quickly.

“The only thing that’s different is that we’re playing on three tennis courts,” the Bobcat defender said. “The bounces are the same and once they lay down the water we won’t be able to tell the difference.”

By “lay down the water” Biegalski is referring to water that will be sprayed on the turf, a standard practice in field hockey, to make the surface more slippery and to help take friction off of the ball.

Ohio Athletics will also be putting lines on the turf in coming days to allow the Bobcats to run set plays like corners.

The team has been appreciative of other departments in the university being so flexible and helping the team find an acceptable to place to practice while Pruitt’s renovation is finished.

“We’re very pleased with the people on campus and [all of the people] who were very generous with this space,” Macmillan said. “It’s not ideal, but for what we’ve got and compared to anywhere else on campus, it’s perfect.”

The new turf that is being laid down at Pruitt Field is projected to be installed and ready to go in early October, just in time for conference competition, if all goes to plan.

“I’ve heard good things about [the new turf],” Biegalski said. “It’s supposed to be one of the nicest turfs that’s getting laid down right now.  It’s supposed to be fantastic.  We’re pretty excited to finally get it in.”

As of now, the only home game that will be affected by the construction will be a non-conference contest against the Indiana Hoosiers on Sept. 21, which was instead moved to Bloomington, Ind.

Overall, however, these Bobcats are taking the situation in stride, much like they took their 0-2 opening weekend in stride.

“We’ve got a great group of people with very good personalities, so I think we’re going to see that they’re tested a little bit, but they can handle it,”  Macmillan said. “I know they’re the type of people that can handle this type of adversity and deal with it and make the most of it.”

“I think that [our resilience] is going to be a theme for us this year as well as our determination to be the best that we can be throughout the adversity that we are facing right now,” Biegalski said.

“We’re practicing just as hard as we would normally,” she continued. “It’s a change … but not that big of one.”