For Ohio State freshman Brooke Hiltz, field hockey is quite the family affair.
Hiltz’s mother, Cindy Hiltz was a field hockey coach at Virginia Beach City Public schools and played at Appalachian State and her two older sisters, Liz and Kaitlyn, both played college field hockey at the University of Virginia. She’s always loved the game and said her sisters inspired her to continue to play as she got older.
“It was kind of in my family,” Hiltz said. “I don’t think I really had a way around it.”
However, Hiltz wanted to break away from her native town of Virginia Beach, Va. Both her sisters stayed home to be Virginia Cavaliers, but she wanted a different experience for herself.
“They both played hockey at UVA, University of Virginia. They both played four years,” Hiltz said. “I just wanted to kind of do something different, get out of the area,ilt and see what was out here.”
Hiltz said she knew she belonged at OSU when she walked around campus during her official visit.
“I was just so in love with it and it just wasn’t even a choice anymore,” Hiltz said.
As the field hockey season got under way, Hiltz took home Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors Oct. 8 following the team’s 2-1 victory over Ohio University Oct. 6.
Earlier in 2013, the freshman earned the responsibility to be the injector for penalty corners, a position that requires the individual who plays it to be an accurate passer. The aspect of the game is important, because it allows the offensive team a chance to score while facing only five defenders, and the injector must be quick to the goal and ready to send home a rebound from the initial shot. Hiltz has stepped into the role well, always putting her teammates in position to score, coach Anne Wilkinson said.
“She is consistent as far as her ball speed,” Wilkinson said. “I think it’s been good as far as getting the ball out and setting it up and she really puts herself in a good position to get rebounds as well.”
Wilkinson said Hiltz also has a great understanding of the kind of play it takes to be a Buckeye. She said Hiltz has adjusted well and is able to learn new concepts quickly.
“Brooke has been fantastic as far as stepping in as a freshman and working right into the system,” Wilkinson said. “She is a really quick learner and she is very, very coachable.”
Wilkinson said Hiltz has “made the most progress as a player” this season and can be ready for any opponent that brings something new.
“I just think her ability to play fast and (her) reaction to what other teams are presenting to us, she is really quick to realize it and she doesn’t get confused too easy,” Wilkinson said. “People come at us with different things and she is really quick to adjust.”
Hiltz said she would not have been able to improve so much if it wasn’t for the support of her teammates. She said the team chemistry allows each player to grow and become better.
“We click really well as a team on and off the field,” Hiltz said. “It’s like really cool to come to a whole new team with brand new girls and really get along with everyone so well.”
Wilkinson said Hiltz has become a leader of the team and said her teammates enjoy being around her.
“The team just loves her … she is coachable and likeable,” Wilkinson said. “She is really a great person to have on the team, a real positive influence on people.”
Hiltz and the Buckeyes are scheduled to play Indiana Saturday at Buckeye Varsity Field. The match is set to begin at 1 p.m.