By KATIE BRUNO
With the lowest number of players in years, The Ramapo College Field Hockey the team stands with only 14 players as of mid-September
Between girls graduating, being injured, or just no longer finding the desire to play, the team came to preseason camp in August with only 11 athletes, just enough players to field a team.
According to the Roadrunners Athletic website, the lowest number of players a field hockey team has had in Ramapo history was in 2006 when the team had 19 members.
“I was concerned. Some of the players decisions not to return to the campus or the team were not known until very close to the reporting deadline,” said Athletic Director Chuck Gordon.
Senior Captain Rachel Wintermute was nervous about entering the 2012 season with such low numbers.
“I knew that meant that there was little room for anyone to get hurt, get sick, or have class. I’ve never been in that situation before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Wintermute said.
If the team did not have enough players, they would not be able to compete in games and not have a season. Even if they had 11 members, that would mean no substitutions during any games without playing short handed. This would have been a shock to all of the New Jersey Athletic Conference and the NCAA, as the Roadrunners had a successful season last year, and finished with an 11-6 record and made it to the post-season tournament.
Gordon said that the Roadrunners’ lack of players is attributed in part to the fact that they were in between coaches, and no one took the position to recruit last year for the upcoming season.
“The somewhat late hire due to the process required to get the full-time position approved and conduct a search factored in to that lack of knowledge regarding the roster size. I discussed situation with our new coach, and we developed strategies to seek additional players. One obvious concern was about having enough players to field a competitive team,” says Gordon.
Jane Koeniges was hired as the full-time field hockey and lacrosse coach for the Roadrunners at the end of July.
“With Coach Koeniges being hired without anytime to recruit, it put this season in quite a bind. Interested and potential recruits that could have been on the team for this year, weren’t followed up with last year, so that limited the incoming numbers,” said assistant coach and former Roadrunner, Becky Penhaker.
The Roadrunners were able to recruit a few players since preseason, and now have a roster of 14.
“We will have better substitution options going forward. I think we have a chance to win our share this year even with a limited number on the roster,” Gordon said.
Despite their low numbers this season, Koeniges plans to strengthen the program and lead the Roadrunners to the top on the NJAC.
“Coach Koeniges is willing to put in the hard hours to make the best of the situation and to eventually build the program into something great–that just shows the kind of character and integrity she has,” Penhaker said.
While some people may look at the situation as negative, coaches and players still remain hopeful for the rest of the season.
“This team has been doing such an amazing job of staying positive and working hard. They know this season is going to be a constant battle but they haven’t backed down yet,” Penhaker said.
The team has made huge progress since the start of the season and have a record 3-4.
“Though this year’s team is small, the morale is the highest I’ve ever seen in the program. I can imagine that it’s a fun game to watch because every single player on the field is giving 100 percent of her energy for a full 70 minutes,” Wintermute said. “Our team just doesn’t give up.”