Members of the Field Hockey team took part in the Liberty Mountain 5k in February.
Field hockey head coach Jodi Murphy has been steadily building and preparing her team during the spring semester, as she sets out to lead Liberty's newest athletics program into its inaugural season this fall.
In late January, Murphy invited interested Liberty students to attend an informational meeting. The meeting was well attended, having around 30 potential student-athletes present to learn about the process of joining the squad. Shortly after the meeting, walk-on tryouts were conducted, where more than 20 individuals took part in the initial tryout for the squad.
Through these processes, coach Murphy now has a roster of 12 players who bring an assortment of field hockey experience to Liberty and look forward to competing on the Division I level.
"We have players from all different field hockey backgrounds and levels of experience," reported Murphy on her current roster. "We have a handful of girls that have tremendous club and USA Futures Field Hockey experience and we have a group of girls that played competitively at the high school level."
Murphy can speak from experience regarding talent levels within USA Futures Field Hockey, as she has been a coach at the Richmond Elite site since 2007. While advising more than 85 athletes, Murphy has developed important management skills during her time as a coach with the program.
Since setting an early roster for the team, the squad has been enduring practices since mid February, which Murphy admitted has been a fairly rigorous schedule. "We typically practice five days a week in the mornings, as well as a couple of evenings each week." Providing further detail, Murphy continued, "We have been weight lifting since early March and have also had the opportunity to observe a couple of practices at local Division I schools to enhance our understanding of the Division I field hockey culture and competitive environment."
In addition to the observations, the players have had a chance to work on honing their individual and team skills while training in the Schilling Center. According to Murphy, the facility's surface will play most similar to the water-based nylon turf that the team will compete on.
"We have devoted a copious amount of time to fundamental training and getting our fitness base. Over the last couple of weeks, I have seen us make great strides in our communication and intensity level at practice, which directly relates to our ability to execute basic skills," explained Murphy.
Murphy is confident with the current group of athletes, especially based on the mark being set in their early work ethic. "Overall I have been impressed by the commitment and desire of our girls. Our inconsistent schedule has been tough, yet they have powered through."
Aside from practicing and beginning to come together as a team, the athletes took part in the Liberty Mountain 5k in late February.
This week, the team will take another step forward, participating in its first exhibition games. On Friday, they travel to face Longwood and Richmond, while on Sunday they will play close to home at Lynchburg College. The exhibition games on Friday will be 7-aside, while Sunday's action will be 7-aside and full field.
In commenting about the progress made in the program's first five months, Murphy stated, "Our team is beginning to look more like a family as we are learning to trust and believe in each other and the values of the program."
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