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October 26, 2005 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-26

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wilhite all caught
up to college game

Opening meet extra
sweet for 'M's' Beyer *

By Colt Rosensweig
Daily Sports Writer
Freshman defender Sarah Wilhite
jumped into the fast-paced, highly skilled
world of college field hockey with both
feet. Through the many challenges, she has
shown herself more than equal to the task.
A well-regarded player equal during her
days at Hershey High School in Pennsyl-
vania, Wilhite still needed to make many
adjustments to the college game. In high
school, the natural grass makes it easier to
hide mistakes, but in the flat turf of college
fields, any underdeveloped areas of skill
are quickly exposed.
"A huge difference (between high school
and college) is the speed," Wilhite said. "In
college, it's just smooth turf and you need
to have the skill."
Despite being a freshman, Wilhite has
started all but two games this season and
has been key to the team's success.
"Coming in, I wasn't expecting to start
at all," Wilhite said. "There's pressure, but
at the same time you want to go out there
and show the people that you do belong."
Wilhite has never stopped working dili-
gently to improve her game. Throughout
high school, she and teammate Allison
Scola - now a freshman midfielder at
Penn State - pushed each other to their
athletic limits.
"We always wanted to be better than
(each other)," Wilhite said. "She's my
biggest competitor but my very best
friend. We really prepared each other for
the next level."

Another part of preparing for college
field hockey was playing on the national
under-16 team. Wilhite said she believes it
helped her become more well-known, and
she said it was very good preparation for
playing field hockey at the college level.
And though she was helped by her work
before coming to Ann Arbor, she still
relied on the Wolverines' upperclassmen
to help her feel more comfortable with the
college game.
"The older girls made it so much easier
to fit in my niche and to feel like I was part
of the team," Wilhite said. "They make you
want to go out there every day and practice
as hard as you can."
Wilhite has already made some great
memories this season, and she hopes for
more to come in the postseason. In a game
against Vermont, she scored the first goal
of a 5-0 win before notching a second later
in the game.
"It was a great feeling," Wilhite said. "I
haven't scored any (since), but I'm planning
on many more to come."
Wilhite has big plans not just for this year
but also for the future. One day she hopes to
be a leader in the mold of captain Lori Hill-
man - not always a vocal presence, but a
powerfully inspiring one. Another dream
is to pass on her desire and knowledge to
the next generation of players as a coach.
And like most athletes, she intends to bring
home a national championship.
"I would love for our team to go all the
way," Wilhite said. "I can see us winning
a national championship sometime in the
next four years. I can promise you that."

By David VandeVusse
For the Daily
For most students, Oct. 27 will be a
standard Thursday night and a gateway to
the long-awaited weekend. For Michigan
freshman swimmer Courtney Beyer, it will
mark a new beginning in her swimming
career - one that she has anticipated for an
awfully long time.
On Thursday Beyer - and her eight fel-
low freshmen teammates - will race in
her first meet as a member of the Wolverine
swimming and diving team.
But how she got there is quite unique.
In January of her senior year of high
school, after she had already committed to
Michigan, Beyer suffered a severe shoul-
der injury at practice, ending her season.
Though her shoulder was sore, Beyer was
pained most by her inability to compete.
"It's really painful watching your team-
mates improve and get better while you're
not improving at all," Beyer said.
From January to May of 2005, Beyer was
not able to swim at all. Instead, she spent
two hours each day doing tedious vertical
kick exercises and trying to maintain her
competitive spirit. Additionally, she under-
went various physical therapy procedures.
There were moments in February and
March when she questioned if her shoulder
would improve and wondered if she would
ever make it back into the pool. When the
thought of quitting crossed her mind, her
support system came through for her. Her
mother and Michigan coach Jim Richard-
son encouraged her to persevere.

"Jim was extremely supportive." Beyer
said. "He told me not to worry. He has a
way of caring about the individual."
In May, Richardson visited Beyer in Cal-
ifornia. He got in touch with her physical
trainer to ensure that they were on the same
page about how to improve Beyer's health
for the coming fall and winter.
With support from her coach and fam-
ily, Beyer was able to overcome her injury
and get back into the pool. Still, when she
arrived in Ann Arbor in the fall, she wasn't
100 percent. She swam with fins, and her
time in the pool was limited in order to
allow her shoulder to heal properly. She
improved each week and, with persever-
ance, fully recovered.
"I think anytime you have something
like this happen and you have something
that you love taken away from you ... it
causes you to reevaluate your relationship
with the sport," Richardson said.
Beyer has done plenty of reevaluating of
her swimming career and is ready to enter
into a new chapter - as a college swimmer.
"I'm a little nervous (about swimming in
college), but I'm excited," Beyer said. "It's
the first time in a long time I'm going to be
able to go out there and swim as hard as I
On Thursday at Canham Natatorium,
Beyer will be swimming the 100-meter fly
for the Wolverines. For Beyer, it will be her
first competitive race in over a year.
"How you respond to adversity tells you
an awful lot about a pefson," Richardson
said. She's responded to it the way you're
supposed to."


Freshman Sarah Wilhite hopes to become a leader like current captain Lori Hillman.

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