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November 07, 1994 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-11-07

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8 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, November 7, 1994


Continued from page 1.
to her (apparent) resemblance to the
character in "Silence of the Lambs."
What was even more frightening
than Smulders' appearance was the
fact that she garnered high school All-
American status, despite the damaged
nose. Sincehernosehadn't been treated
during the season, a surgeon rebroke it
at the conclusion of the campaign in
order for it to be fixed.
A strong supporter of Smulders
pointed out that this incident revealed
the true grit of the Wolverine midfielder.
"She made up her own mind to
finish the season," Laetitia Smulders
said. "She wanted to get selected by a
Michelle's chances of being re-
cruited by major universities increased

due to her extensive participation in
field hockey summer camps. For four
years, she attended camps in Holland
which were run by the Royal Dutch
Hockey Federation.
Due to the coed nature of these
camps, competitive play was the norm.
If the women chose not to pass the ball
or not to play aggressively, they would
never get the ball passed to them by the
The United States Field Hockey
National Futures Program and National
Futures Tournament, which Smulders
entered as a high school sophomore
and continued throughout her prep ca-
reer, also served to improve Smulders'
level of play during the off-season. It
was in these camps that Smulders play
"My high school coach, I guess she
didn't teach me the things that I
learned," she said. "My skills that I

picked up came from my Futures pro-
In theFuturesprogram,currentIowa
assistant coach Patty Shea served as
one of Smulders mentors. Shea stressed
the importance of basic skills, such as
receiving and dribbling. These funda-
mentals are required for excellence in
the sport; in Smulders' words, "the
great players are the ones who can do
the basics well."
During her quest for excellence in
high school, Michelle's parents proved
extremely supportive of their youngest
daughter. With her extensive field
hockey background, Laetitiacounseled
Michelle on how to react during certain
game situations. Smulders' parental
support helped her earn numerous in-
dividual accolades in fieldhockey while
at Kinkaid. Laetitia Smulders' keen
eye for talent helped her know right
away that her daughter would be some-
one special.
"I knew pretty early, because I
played so much that I can almost tell if
someone has afeel forthe ball," Laetitia
She was. correct with her predic-
tion, as Michelle expressed a love for
the game from the moment she was
introduced to it in seventh grade. Prac-
tices five days a week for the first two
months of the school year didn't dispel
the future high school standout from
"I've always really enjoyed the
game," Smulders said.
Smulders' love for the game mir-
rored herparents' adoration for it. They
built a goal in the back yard, allowing
her to practice at home. Taking shots




They were somewhat skeptical of one
of their kin playing field hockey in the
United States, a nation not known as a
field hockey power.
But after a United States upset vic-
tory over the Netherlands in a tourna-
ment afew years back, Smulders gained
respect among her family in Europe.,
Planning on attending a university
whose team was beginning to enter the
national rankings also helped
Michelle's status amongst her Dutch
relatives. She chose Michigan because
of the opportunity the Wolverines of-
"I wanted to join a program where
I could contribute something, not sit on
the bench for two years," Smulders
Her wish has been granted, as she
has helped Michigan's cause im-
mensely since arriving in Ann Arbor a
little more than a year ago. However,
until this year, the Wolverines had yet
to experience the thrill of postseason
play during the Smulders era.
This past weekend, Michigan par-
ticipated in thefirst-ever Big Ten Play-
offs at Columbus. Going into the tour-
ney, the Wolverines looked to make ah
"It's going to be a dogfight,"
Smulders said. "We have nothing to*
Smulders' confidence wasn't
enough for Michigan, as the Wolvei-
ines fell in the first round of the tourna-
ment, losing 3-1, to Ohio State Friday.
Nevertheless, the confidence stem-
ming forth from Smulders shows she
wants to succeed in the sport her family
Her mother played field hockey.
Her father is knowledgeable in the his-
tory of the game, stating that "field
hockey is the oldestorganized women's
sport in the United States." He also
describes Michelle's attitude toward
the game best when he says, "Once she
has set her mind to something, she'll
leave no stone unturned to get what she
But regardless of her successes and
failures in the game, the sport of field@
hockey will always be with Michelle
Smulders. It's in her blood.

Michelle Smulders brought an All-American prep background to Michigan
after a fine career at the Kinkaid School in Houston.

on net with her parents provided fun
and helped her game develop.
But during Michelle's junior year,
her father received a job transfer from
Houston to Los Angeles. Not wanting
to jeopardize Michelle's situation at
Kinkaid, a private school with a fine
field hockey program, her father de-
cided to commute to southern Califor-
nia during the week while spending

I, I

weekends in Texas with his wife and
youngest child. This sacrifice exhib-
ited their unwavering devotion to
Michelle's further academic and ath-
letic advancement.
Smulders helped her parents'
dreams to be realized when she won
one of the two prestigious academic/
athletic scholarships at Kinkaid for her
senior year. The award covered full
tuition for the year and foreshadowed
success on the field in her last year of
high school.
That season she led her team to the
state title in the Southern Preparatory
Conference and was subsequently
named All-America. Due to these
awards and honors, numerous major
universities wooed Smulders, offering
a chance to play with a big-time field
hockey program.
Yet, many of her relatives in Hol-
land remained unimpressed by their
American cousin's success in the sport.


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Continued from page 3
would return to the Wolverine lockerroom.
"There's bad energy there right now from someone who's bringing them
down. I know there's going to be some more disappointment for them coming
up." But, she added, "Next season they're going to do real, real well to make
up for this season."
My curiosity satiated for the time being, I left her house with high hopes
for the future of Michigan football. As I turned past the bronze eagle guarding
the entrance to the stadium, something Amber said came back to me:
"I feel that there's someone who's really going to give the team a boost.
It's going to be one individual. It's a player. Either he's very new or he's
coming soon.
"It's someone who they least expect."
I hope Jason Carr believes in clairvoyance.

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