Field hockey sisters bring Spanish influence to the team

Field+hockey+sisters+bring+Spanish+influence+to+the+team

Conor Roche

Making the transition to college is tough for any student, but for Quinnipiac field hockey sisters Elisa Ruiz Martinez and Ines Ruiz Martinez, they have to balance more than academics and athletics.

After spending all of their childhood in Madrid, Spain, the sisters have to adjust to living in a new country and speaking a new language.

[media-credit id=2164 align=”alignright” width=”300″]dsc_0742[/media-credit]

Elisa, a sophomore midfielder, and Ines, a freshman forward, didn’t know anyone but each other in America when they arrived. However, it was their mother that came up with the idea that they should play field hockey and go to college in a foreign country.

“I wanted to study and have my career in Spain,” Elisa said. “My mother told me that if I wanted to speak English, it would be easier to come here to learn the language. I wanted to play field hockey and study at the same time, but in Spain it’s so hard to do that. It was an incredible opportunity to come here.”

Bobcats head coach Becca Main began to recruit Elisa after the team received a video of her from recruitment services in her senior year. Main decided to go after Elisa after the “great experience” they had with Gemma Cierra, another Spanish player who was with the program for a year and a half.

“When you watch her recruiting video and watching her now on the field, it’s the same,” Main said on Elisa’s recruiting video. “She’s bringing exactly what I expected. We started to narrow it down to Elisa and another athlete, and it became a matter of academically if we could get her in. We really took a chance on her and it’s worked out for us.”

Main learned about Ines shortly after and, like with Elisa, Main really liked what she saw.

“We’ve liked Ines from the beginning and wanted to make sure financially we could make it happen,” Main said. “Ines came to a clinic when she was a senior and their parents did an unbelievable job of putting them out there so we can see them. Ines came to a clinic on a wet, rainy day and she did a whole bunch of a little things. Elisa kept on saying, ‘She’s better than I am.’ You watch Elisa and you go, ‘How can she be better than Elisa?’”

Luckily for Main, the decision to come to Quinnipiac was an easy one for Ines.

“I love to play with my sister,” Ines said. “My sister was here, and I liked to play hockey. In Spain, it’s really difficult to combine hockey and college at the same time.”

Once she arrived at Quinnipiac, Elisa had to begin the transition by herself.

“I was so alone at the beginning of last year,” Elisa said.

The academic scene in America was also very different for Elisa.

“In Spain, you don’t need to go to class,” Elisa said. “My friends don’t go to class at home, and they spend the day at home or wherever they want to go to study.”

However, Main said Elisa was able to make a strong transition once she got in the swing of things.

“Elisa’s English in one year has been an unbelievable change,” Main said. “She can speak the language completely fluent, completely easily and can understand what’s happening.”

Ines is now going through the change that her sister had to go through last year.

“It’s hard. It’s very different than Spain,” Ines said on the difference between school in America and Spain. “For example, economics is three hours of class and it’s all in English, and sometimes I don’t understand anything and I just have to try and listen.”

Main realizes the difficulty that Elisa and Ines have to go through and takes a different approach of helping them than with the rest of her team.

“I’ve had a lot of international students where English is close to their first language,” Main said. “These two are the first ones where it is completely their second language. What we’ve been trying to do is let them be them, but let them understand they have to mesh with each other.”

Main had to make a drastic change for the sisters last week though when she banned them from speaking Spanish on the field so Ines can learn English easier.

“I love listening them speak Spanish to each other. I love hearing them yell at each other in Spanish. I love it, but it’s not making Ines learn the language fast enough,” Main said. “So if Elisa is helping her all the time, there’s that tough love of ‘Eli stop helping her.’ Ines has to work on her English. Elisa’s really helping Ines with it, and I know that’s why Ines is playing really well right now.”

The sisters have also had to deal with the change as to how the game is played in America compared to Spain.

“I feel like Spain is more technical and here I feel like it’s more physical,” Elisa said. “There is more conditioning here. In Spain, we usually practiced three days a week and one day for conditioning. Here, there is so much conditioning.”

Elisa also said playing in America is a bit tougher because the game is played with more physicality.

Main said the different style the sisters play really helps the Bobcats and adds another dimension to the team.

“Their style of field hockey is very different than our style,” Main said. “They may struggle with the physical side of it, but we struggle with the stickwork and tactics. We add the physicality, the strength, the running to them. And they add to us the stickwork.”

Main said the sisters have been great additions to the team so far.

“It took Elisa about six months and then all of a sudden, you saw a very elite field hockey player come out,” Main said.

Main also said Ines has been able to make the transition and having Ines here has made Elisa better.

“To have the two of them have each other has been great,” Main said. “Having Elisa here has helped Ines progress so much faster than she did because she’s here supporting her. She’s translating and helping her, and that’s really been helpful. Elisa did it all by herself. She was dropped here all by herself. This year I’ve seen her smile twice as much this year because she has Ines.”

Elisa has also noticed the difference and said she is happier this year because Ines is with her.

“I feel like it’s piece of home for me,” Elisa said. “It’s really good to have her here. It’s really helpful to have her here.”

Elisa is a journalism major and hopes studying in America can help her career. Ines, on the other hand, doesn’t know what she wants to study yet.

Main believes their experience in America will be a huge benefit in the future.

“There’s a huge value for both of them when they go back home and have an American education,” Main said. “It helps them, and I hope they use learning English to their advantage. It makes them more marketable when they’re back at home.”