Every spring field hockey head coach Becca Main Kohli encourages her players to try out for the USA Field Hockey’s High Performance team.
This summer, of the few Quinnipiac players to try out, sophomore Christa Romano and senior Kimberly Cunniff were the only Bobcats to make their respective teams.
Cunniff played for the senior New England team while Romano was a member of the junior squad.
“It was awesome,” Romano said. “You get to compete with the best players in the nation in your region. It’s just high intensity, high skill, high level of coaching all around.”
The purpose of the program is to train athletes who can potentially play for the US National team.
The teams were from different regions across the country and had some of the best players in the nation.
“Everything’s at a faster pace, higher intensity. You have to train harder, faster, you have to be really fit and be mentally tough,” Romano said. “There was no bad players. Every person you were competing with was strong, fit, aggressive, talented.”
Both Romano and Cunniff used the opportunity as a learning experience that they can translate into their games this season.
“We learned a lot of small moves,” Cunniff said. “It’s just something different that a lot of the higher levels are using now and we can bring it back to our team and use it to our advantage.”
Cunniff has three points on the season this year, and Main Kohli already sees improvement in both Cunniff and Romano’s play this season and credits their summer experience.
“What I love about it is that it teaches them a different style of play. It’s always better even if you go out and a coach says try this, you can bring something back,” Main Kohli said. “Even though I have my way of playing, and there’s a way we play, both Christa and obviously Kimmy, even with a broken hand … their game has evolved.”
For Cunniff, the experience helped improved her chances of possibly playing at that next level.
“I’d like to [play professionally] if I got that lucky,” Cunniff said. “It definitely helped [my chances].”
Main Kohli would indeed like to see Cunniff playing at the next level.
“She’s a calm leader. She doesn’t get rattled. She’s just a storm when she plays,” Main Kohli said.
“I would love to see Kimmy go play international. I’d love to see her go out and do something out of college and maybe spend a couple months in the Netherlands or Germany and just have that experience and try that.”
After falling last season in the NEC semifinal to Rider, Cunniff and Romano’s summer experience is giving them high hopes for this season.
“We’re a great team and I think the sky’s the limit for us,” Romano said.