That “family” feeling – Lehigh University Athletics

History links

Door: Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Communications

This fall, four Dutch people are on Lehigh’s ice hockey list.

While four years ago Link-Havas It was a first in the history of the program and today the pipeline is more robust than ever. It’s a pipeline that lasted through the pandemic – a testament to Lehigh and his field hockey program.

This autumn Havas (Maastricht) is returning for her fifth year and will attend a graduate school. Carpentry Sarah Ponthesse (Old Biggerland), Anglerfish Smorenberg (Rotterdam) in the second year and Guusje Hogendoorn (Apeldoorn) in the first year. Also called the home of the Netherlands. How did you find Lehigh?

Their stories are similar in some ways, but different in others.

“Every Dutch student who wants to study in the US is married to an agency in the Netherlands,” says Havas. “The agency is responsible for bringing you together with different universities. I had to make a video playing in and I had to take the SAT and TOEFL, which is an international English test.

From there, the agency created the Havas profile, which was sent to several college coaches in the United States.

“So just see what the coaches are up to and are interested in having you on their team,” said Havas. “I had six or seven schools that said they could have a place for me.

“Lehigh was one of the first schools to show interest.”

The Mountain Hawks work philosophy is developed as with all student athletes in the Netherlands.

“We strive to find those who not only fit our culture, but also improve it,” said Lehigh coach. Caitlin Dallmayr. “It takes a lot of work to find a student-athlete who would like to take a closer look at our program and choose to see not only the potential growth of the program but also the growth of the program.

Because of this, Havas felt strongly drawn to Lehigh – the impact it could have on developing a rebuilding program (which she certainly did).

“The decision to go with Lehigh wasn’t too difficult as the Skype conversations with Coach seemed very appealing,” said Havas. “I felt like it was a bigger picture … something bigger than me. Lots of other conversations [with other schools] Male We expect to be champions every season. What I liked about Lehigh was that there was a lot of room to grow and a lot of room to develop a better program. “

Havas set out to make a decision almost entirely from the start and relied heavily on long and in-depth discussions with his college coaches.

“The Lehigh coaching team mostly told me about the campus, the team and the culture,” she said. “I did the same with other schools. At some point you will get a few offers for the schools and it will be time to make a decision.

Two years after Havas, Bonthuis found itself in a similar situation – through an agency to get its name in Division I field hockey programs in the United States.

The only, but important, difference for Ponthos is that she decided to visit him.

“In November of my senior year of high school, my dad and I toured the schools so I could see the campus, the surrounding area, and the people,” said Sarah. “I had to make a decision within a week. When I got back my dad and I had seven hours so I made a list of all the pros and cons.

When we got to Amsterdam, he made the decision.

Lehigh addresses future student athletes in a number of ways. Havas chose Lehigh almost confidently, while Bonthuis also chose Lehigh after a personal visit.

“The campus is beautiful,” said Ponthes. “When I left, I saw myself walking there” [next year]. “

During his visit, Ponthuis only met the Dutch players from the team at the time – Havas and Sophie Mielinck (van De Bilt).

“I’m sold,” said Ponthes. “Lehigh was the place.”

Compared to Hava’s hypothetical recruitment, Bonthuis’ experiment was a different route to the same conclusion.

“Sarah went to American schools, that’s where we got to know her and made contact with her and her family,” says Dallmeier. “We then planned a recruiting trip to the Netherlands and saw them again in their gaming environment, which was a great experience for us. “

The similarities and differences in recruiting Havas and Bonthuis are really an example of the unique recruiting process from the Netherlands.

“Every day we get different profiles from different agencies that highlight international athletes who like to come to the US,” said Dallmayr. “We sort them out and find the graduate student-athletes first, then we move on to feature film evaluation. The feature film can be difficult because it is easy to show your strengths and hide your weaknesses by simply showing them. “

“You can’t get a realistic picture of an athlete from just a few film clips, so the process involves a great deal of risk. We had to support our decision to take Lenke from the movie to Lehigh, check references, and make Skype calls (now Zoom calls). ”

It certainly helped Bonthuis to have Havas on his list of countries and cultures. And with Sarah’s decision to come to Lehigh, the impetus came that Smurrenburg and Hoogendoorn followed in her footsteps for the next two years.

Due to the dynamic, a guide from the Netherlands is now waiting on campus (for everyone except Havas, as she was the first).

“Link had the strongest mentoring role for me during my first week in the US,” said Ponthuis. “You also helped a lot with the preparation; we met in the summer [heading into my first year] And I took a test drive and what to pack. She sent me this whole list of things I mustn’t forget.

When Bonthuis got to campus to prepare for the season, she was fine. Still, being away from home can be intimidating.

This is where Havas’ mentoring began.

“I slept in his room for the first week of the preseason,” says Bonthuis. “She said if you want to talk about something, just talk to me. We can have our conversations in Dutch at night because I’m sure you will miss it with your family.

“She was amazing to me.”

For the Dutch, the language barrier is a bit of a challenge, but not too much as English is taught from an early age in the Netherlands.

“Everyone in the Netherlands speaks Dutch, but since nobody else in the world speaks it, we have to learn other languages,” says Ponthuis. “Since English is the most important language in the world, we started learning English very early. “

Bonthuis was in high school when she started her formal English class.

“I studied bilingually in high school, so I taught bilingual for six years (secondary school starts at age 12 in the Netherlands), which helped me a lot,” said Ponthuis. “When I came to the United States, I was very good at educational English; I knew what everyone in my classes was saying. I had to know how to communicate locally, but I learned that in a couple of weeks.

“You start talking to your teammates and friends and it happens without you even knowing it. “

With the addition of Smorenburg, Sarah’s role was reversed.

“Sarah did a great job at Lotte,” said Havas. “More was not necessary. I definitely hope that it will continue to do so in the future; It’s a great opportunity to lead as a senior. It’s also great to have this newbie on the team who can see things from his point of view.

“I hope it continues like this, and I think so. I hope Lotte will pass it on to Guusje and Guusje will take the next step.

It says a lot about Lehigh and the people of Lehigh that the Dutch pipeline will only get stronger during the pandemic (this is the time when you would of course be scared of traveling long distances from home). One of the main reasons for this is the coaching team who care a lot about their student athletes as individuals.

“[In March of 2020]Havas said, referring to Lehigh’s initial announcement of a two-week shutdown before quickly moving on to the rest of the semester as the severity of the pandemic becomes more apparent. “I felt really supported by the team and the coaches. They were waiting to get home and it didn’t matter if I couldn’t be back on time. This situation would have been better if you had been at home.

“You were absolutely right.”

Havas felt supported in every decision she made.

“It wasn’t hard to make the decision to go home because I knew they supported me and understood me,” she said.

Similar thoughts went to the manager of Bonthuis, who was in San Francisco for the spring break before returning to campus after the news broke.

“I spoke to my father on the phone and he didn’t think it would be over in two weeks,” said Sarah. “I just want to go home in such difficult times, so I immediately texted the coach to say I was going home. She said it was a wise decision and she just wanted me to be safe and at home with loved ones.

“The coach supported me a lot during this time – and also when I said that I would like to leave the autumn season (2020),” continued Ponthuis. “I felt like you couldn’t make a bad decision.

“You have to do what is best for you and do what is right for you – mentally and physically. “

College is an opportunity to grow in many ways, and Lehigh provides this environment for all of its student-athletes. Lehigh’s reputation grew within the hockey community, not just locally but internationally.

“In the last few years I’ve had a couple of girls who know me, see me on Instagram, or know mom or dad and say they go to the US and ask what I recommend,” Bonthuis mentions. . “The first thing I say is: Do it. Honestly, that’s one of the best things that ever happened to me. Every day when I’m in Lehigh I say to myself, oh my god, this is such an adventure.

“I am very lucky to have experienced this with a great family team.”

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