On campus, the typical Princeton student’s schedule includes busy nights followed by sluggish mornings. But for the four undergrads training with the U.S. field hockey team in California, the order has flipped: Mornings are a flurry, while the nights are calm and quiet.
“It’s almost guaranteed that I’ll be in bed by 9 p.m.,” says Katie Reinprecht ’12, who shares a house with sister Julia ’13, Michelle Cesan ’13, Kathleen Sharkey ’12, and four other U.S. teammates.
The national team, which also includes Maren Langford ’06, has endured an exhausting year of training, scrimmaging, weightlifting, and conditioning — broken up by a handful of international tours and tournaments. Even on “off” days, each player is expected to complete a running workout.
The work seems to be paying off: The Princeton players all say they’re in the best shape of their lives, and after upsetting top-ranked Argentina to win the Pan American Games in late October, the United States looks like an Olympic medal contender.
Winning gold at the Pan Am Games guaranteed the United States a spot in London, and for the next eight months, Olympic roster positions were up for grabs. Competition within the team initially was a source of tension, Langford says, but the players quickly cleared that mental hurdle. “You can’t think about it,” she says. “If you do, no one is going to take risks and no one is going to get better.”
When the 16-player roster was selected June 11, it included two Tigers, Julia and Katie Reinprecht, with Cesan as an alternate.
The five Princeton players took different routes to the national team, but they have one thing in common: appreciation for Tigers head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn, a former national-team player who has supported each player’s Olympic ambition, providing encouragement with phone calls and messages.
“It’s nice to be reminded what you’re capable of,” Katie Reinprecht says. “Kristen
is really good at doing that.”