Volume 27 · Number 1 · Fall 2009
Aggie golfers Alice Kim and Chelsea Stelzmiller were among just a handful of amateurs who played in the 2009 U.S. Women's Open. Read more...
(Steve Chen/Big West Conference and Mark Honbo/UC Davis)
Field hockey becomes 27th varsity sport
‘Perfect schedule’ includes Harvard and Stanford.
By John McMahon
Run fast and carry a big stick. That’s what Aggie women do on UC Davis’ newest varsity team — field hockey. They also hit, dribble, flick, push, scoop, pass and drive a little ball down the field toward the goal.
UC Davis’ 15th NCAA Division I sport for women has finally arrived at Aggie Stadium.
The team opened its season at home on Aug. 31 against Missouri State, just a year after it was announced that field hockey would become UC Davis’ 27th intercollegiate program.
Vianney Campos, a former first-team All-American who led the nation in goals and points per game while starring at the University of the Pacific, was hired as head coach last November — leaving her just months to create a schedule and build an entire roster.
Campos said an ideal squad size is anywhere between 25 and 27, Recruiting was easier than she anticipated.
“I know at least three of my big-time recruits were pretty sure they were going to go elsewhere,” Campos said. “But when they heard about UC Davis they held off. It ended up working out that they came to me.”
Indeed, a geographic imbalance in collegiate field hockey may have played in the Aggies’ favor. The NCAA lists 78 schools with Division I field hockey, not counting UC Davis, but only three of those are in California — University of the Pacific, Stanford and UC Berkeley. Outside the state, you would have to travel as far east as Missouri before you would find one.
Yet California has plenty of field hockey talent. The state is known for two “recruiting hotbeds.” One is San Diego, Campos’ hometown, and the other is the San Francisco Bay Area.
“California student-athletes want to stay in California, at least for field hockey,” Campos added. “The moment they heard of UC Davis, just with its academic reputation, they immediately started contacting the administration.”
When Campos first arrived on campus, her e-mail inbox already had nearly 50 forwarded messages from athletes interested in the new program.
Field hockey is not new to the campus, although intercollegiate competition at the Division I level is. The last varsity squad at UC Davis played in 1982. The campus also has had a club team for more than a decade; the club placed second in its conference championships last fall.
UC Davis’ new Division I team belongs to the NorPac Field Hockey Conference. In addition to the four California teams, the conference includes four eastern schools — Appalachian State University, Davidson College, Radford University and Longwood University. With the addition of UC Davis as the eighth member, the conference will re-establish Eastern and Western divisional play this fall.
The 2009 regular season schedule includes four games at home and 12 on the road. Nine of those contests away from Aggie Stadium will be played in the Eastern time zone during two separate trips. The first trip includes match-ups with Saint Francis and La Salle universities in Pennsylvania, Siena College in New York, Harvard in Massachusetts, and the universities of New Hampshire and Vermont in Vermont. The second trip features games against conference rivals Davidson, Appalachian State and Radford.
“It’s a perfect schedule for us to start off,” Campos said. “We have some good competition throughout the season. Teams are certainly going to be challenging us while we’ll still be playing games that we’ll have a chance at and will build confidence from. I think it’s going to be a great way to start the team at the Division I level.”