Collins lead field hockey

Even if it means sitting on a crate and hitting around a ball while the rest of the team runs drills, Danielle Collins, even injured, will not get off the field. For this field hockey player, dedication is what the game is all about. She has learned to balance her athletics with academics, majoring in middle level education, and has given up the majority of her social life to be a member of a team, not to mention coming back full force from an injury last season. “She is completely engaged in every aspect of the team, on and off the field,” head coach of the UVM field hockey team, Nicki Houghton, said. A junior, Collins has been improving drastically during her three years on the team. She was named to the America-East All-Conference First Team and All-Tournament Team in the 2005 season and was named to the America East All-Conference Rookie Team in the 2004 season and is currently second the America East Conference in points per game (2.3). That impressive number ranks her 18th in the country. She is joined in the top 45 by teammates sophomore Maegan Luce (18th) and junior Kelly McClintock (45th), according to Athletic Communication at UVM. She is in fifth place all-time in scoring with 65 points at UVM. Collins is also third in assists with 17 and seventh in goals scored with 24. Her 23 points this season rank her as the ninth-highest point-scorer in a single season in Vermont history, according to Athletic Communications. “I go to all the individual training sessions with coaches, all the practices, and all of the lifts,” Collins said. “During the off-season I’m constantly trying to get better physically and pushing myself to my physical limits so that I can perform during the season.” Despite an ankle injury and the resulting surgery she dealt with in the past season, Collins retains such a strong self motivation. Her performance does not reflect any hint of the injury and she helps to develop a hard-working team dynamic for everyone, Houghton said. “Her drive to work through her injuries was remarkable,” she said. “She was constantly engaged even if it did mean sitting on the side and feeding the balls to her teammates; she was constantly in the game even if her body couldn’t be out on the field. That dedication has really shown as [she has] come back and truly performed this season.” Growing up in Walpole, Mass., Collins was surrounded by field hockey and field hockey fanatics. “It’s a huge field hockey town,” Collins said. “The high school team won nine state titles so I was sort of talked into playing because that was just what you did. After a week long camp I hated it, but I guess it grew on me.” Incorporating field hockey into her three sport athletic career in high school, Collins excelled and was recruited to UVM, where she, “hit the ground running,” Houghton said. In 2004 during her freshman year she tallied 14 total points and then doubled that number, scoring 28 points her sophomore year. With 28 points scored in one season, Collins ranks fourth overall at UVM. As of Oct. 5, she had scored 23 points this season, according to Athletic Communications. So far in the 2006 season Collins scored three goals and had two assists in the opener against Lock Haven. She assisted a goal in the game against Providence and scored twice in the Sacred Heart game. In the win over Miami (Ohio), Collins managed two goals and one assist. She scored a goal against Davidson and gained an assist in the win over Cornell. In the most recent game, Collins scored one goal against Louisville. “What makes Danielle so effective on the field is her ability to eliminate her opponent in any one-on-one interaction,” Houghton said. “She takes on each situation and combines her stick skills with her speed to push past everyone.” Trying not to be taken out by the goalie, Collins said she just hits the ball her hardest and prays that it goes in. With all the off-season practice and her competitive nature, she wants to continue to bring what she has been doing to the team. “Nothing is done by one person,” she said. “If the team is dedicated and having fun, we’ll connect and be successful.” Collins’ competitiveness and ability to not only challenge her opponents, but her own team, helps the team as a whole strive toward their goals, Houghton said. “We all take it one game at a time,” she said. “Once Danielle as well as the team reaches one goal, new ones will develop, which will lead to more progress in all aspects of the game.” As a junior, Collins has yet another year with the team and she is excited to see what she as well as the team can continue to bring to the plate. “We’re always getting a year older and better,” Collins said. “Besides constant improvement, what more could you ask for?”