With the field hockey team's spring practices around the corner, LibertyFlames.com continues its player spotlight series with this week's focus on Pippa Best.
Best is a freshman forward from Lisburn, Northern Ireland. Best competed in 17 of Liberty's 18 contests in the 2015 season, recording two goals in six shots on goal.
Who introduced you to field hockey? Best: It was my mom who introduced me to field hockey, however I nearly picked playing rugby over it. My two sisters had never played field hockey before but my mom had played when she was in high school. My dad was into rugby and he coached my brother at Lisburn Rugby Club every Saturday. As both sports ran on Saturday morning, when it came to the decision of picking which sport to play, I was stuck between them both. However, I ended up choosing rugby with my dad and brother. After one week of going to rugby practice which was with only boys and myself as the only girl, I then asked my mom to bring me to our local hockey club. Since then I have never stepped back onto a rugby pitch, though I still like to watch my brother play with Lisburn Rugby Club and watch the Ireland team play!
Tell me about your family. What do your parents, or guardians, do? How many brothers or sisters do you have and what do they do? Best: Back home in Ireland, I live on a farm. We have many animals and my parents also own their own strawberry and raspberry business. My mom works on the farm all year round as it is very busy. My dad also works on the farm and he also has a job in the Department of Agriculture. I have two sisters, Caroline (26 years old) and Lucy (24 years old). Caroline lives in England and is currently working for Mencap, which is a company that helps with special needs people. She is also currently in the process of joining the Army and she has a few exams with the application very soon. Lucy has Down Syndrome, but this doesn't stop her from doing very much! She is very able and has work experiences each week at the dog kennels and also for the Special Olympics. This involves her getting on the train to Belfast on her own and helping promote the Special Olympics Organization. She is also a double Olympic Bronze Medalist herself at skiing and competed at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea. She also enjoys horse-riding, swimming and cycling down to our local shop to see her friends. I also have a brother named Jack and he is 22 years old. He works from home and has his own contracting business. This keeps him busy all year round with hedge-cutting, bailing, wrapping and doing other tractor jobs for people. He also enjoys playing rugby every Saturday morning with Lisburn Rugby Club.
If you weren't playing field hockey which sport would you enjoy playing? Best: If I wasn't played hockey, I would be playing camogie for my local club called St-Mary's Aghagallon. Camogie is a very Irish sport and it is very similiar to hurling (boys version). It is a very aggressive sport but I really enjoy playing it. I would also be horse-riding, I really enjoy it and have my own horse back home. I look forward to showjumping and competing again when I have more time.
Tell us your recruiting story on how you got to Liberty. Best: In my fifth year of high school, I began to think about looking at universities in the United States. I was always for going away from home for university and America soon became the ultimate goal. As I began to look into different universities, I still went through the entire application process for universities in the UK as a backup. I went to open days all over the UK but I was still set on the States. I then started to send off A LOT of emails to different universities in the States, however Liberty was not on my radar. It wasn't until at Christmas when I was playing hockey for Lurgan Ladies, my local club, and the Barr's (current players at Liberty) talked to me about Liberty and if I would ever think about going to the States. I admitted that I was actually already looking at the States and they asked if I would mind if I gave them my email so they could pass it on to Coach Murphy. As I was keeping my doors open, I handed over my email. I soon started to skype with many schools including Liberty and I was getting more and more excited about the entire process. As weeks and months were going by I was trying to narrow down the amount of schools I was looking at. I soon narrowed it down to Michigan State and Liberty. September 2014 I went out on an official visit to both with my dad. As soon as I stepped onto the Liberty grounds I was 100% sure that any ideas of going to a university in the UK were completely gone. You could never have compared them! I soon fell in love with everything at Liberty and the people were all so welcoming. I then travelled up to Michigan State University which I also loved. As I left Michigan State I knew I had a big choice to make. After some long thoughts and discussions, I skyped coach and told her I was very happy to accept the offer Liberty had offered me. I was so excited and I am very happy with my choice.
If you could get away from field hockey for a little bit, what would you enjoy doing? Best: I love to go for long cycles with my mom and dad and enter some local competitions. In the summer my dad and I would play tennis, which is always a good competitive game between us! I also enjoy running 5k/10k road races. When I am off school in the summer, I love to go travelling and see other countries with my friends.
What are you studying, and what do you enjoy about that? Best: I am studying kinesiology and I really enjoy it. I find the classes really fun and everyone gets along so well. The theory side is also really interesting. When I go back to Northern Ireland, I hope to use kinesiology and become a secondary physical education teacher.
Any connections to famous athletes or influential people around the country? Best: My sister Lucy is an Olympian!
Who were your heroes growing up, and who did you emulate in the backyard or playground? Best: My parents were the two people who I looked up to most. Hearing about all the sports they played when they grew up made me want to get involved with sports even more during my school years. Also they are so hardworking in their jobs, this continued to inspire me to work hard at any challenges I met on the sports field or in the classroom as I grew up. Also my brother Jack. We are both very close and we also went to boarding school together. I looked up to him as he too enjoyed playing sport at a competitive level and we always loved some competition between ourselves!
What was your favorite memory that you took away from this season? Best: I think being on the road with the all of the team and coaches were some of my favorite memories. I loved seeing the different universities and their campuses. Also my Thanksgiving break was really fun too. I went to Texas to visit a friend from home who is studying at the University of North Texas.
What do you look forward to most this spring? Best: The spring is very different from the fall. At the minute we are only allowed to train for eight hours a week so we have lots of free time in the afternoons and weekends. However, I love having the free time on the weekends to relax and have fun with friends. I also look forward to going hiking with friends. I am looking forward to getting stronger and fitter in the spring in preparation for the fall season.
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