Considering that 72 percent of Rider students are from New Jersey, many wonder why people would come here from states such as California and Texas. So when students hear that there is a freshman from Getxo, Spain, they look baffled. Why would someone from Europe attend Rider? The answer is field hockey.
Before last summer, Virginia Egusquiza had never even been to the United States. Now, she is adapting to the country and learning new things everyday.
“I think it’s important to go to new places,” she said. “You know how to treat people and I’ve learned a lot about another culture.”
The field hockey team’s head coach, Lori Hussong, says that Egusquiza has adjusted very well to being in a new atmosphere.
“Virginia is a very young but mature freshman,” Hussong said. “She turned 18 in early November, but is extremely independent and is a self-sufficient young woman.”
While Egusquiza has adapted well to American culture, she feels lucky to have a strong support system in her teammates and coaches. Although everyone on the team has been helpful to her, Egusquiza noted that seniors Mandy Hunter and Julie Vaccarelli have gone the extra mile to help with everything from schoolwork to everyday questions concerning American culture.
“The girls on our team have welcomed Virginia, as well as all the freshmen, with open arms,” Hussong said. “They have been so helpful in helping her assimilate to the United States.”
As far as adapting to playing field hockey in the U.S., Hussong says that Egusquiza had a little bit of trouble at first, but once she adjusted, it made all the difference.
“It has taken her a little bit of time to adjust to our style of play,” explained Hussong. “In Europe, they [have] a very lateral style of play and here at Rider, we are much more vertical. Once she adjusted, her skills and field vision were exciting and, at the same time, beautiful to watch.”
Once she got the hang of playing field hockey in the U.S., Egusquiza made a name for herself in the Northeast Conference (NEC). She was named Rookie of the Week four times within five weeks and NEC Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. She also earned first team All-NEC and All-Tournament Team honors for the NEC Tournament. As for her accomplishments for Rider, Egusquiza had a total of five assists and seven goals this season, which makes her third on the team for most goals this season, behind seniors Tricia Crotty and Diana Celebre. Egusquiza came through in the clutch on several occasions, including scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against Georgetown.
“It was my first goal of the season,” Egusquiza said. “Finally I scored and it felt great.”
Egusquiza chose to attend college in the U.S. so that she could get a better education and continue to play field hockey. In Spain, universities do not have field hockey teams. Although it can be difficult to be so far away from her friends and family, Egusquiza is ultimately happy with her decision to come to Rider.
“It’s one of the best decisions I have made in my whole life,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every day here and I wouldn’t change anything.”