The typical Princeton student returns to campus with stories about summer internships, study-abroad programs, and family vacations. But Julia Reinprecht ’14, Katie Reinprecht ’13, and Michelle Cesan ’14 are back with true tales about fierce contests with the U.S. women’s field hockey team.
Now the three are ready to jump back into Ivy competition as Princeton team members. “I don’t forget what it’s like to play with all those girls,” said Julia Reinprecht.
The Tigers’ preseason training began Aug. 20, just six days after the U.S. team’s match against Belgium for an 11th-place finish. The U.S. Olympic Committee recommends a 10-day minimum break between the Olympics and resumption of training, Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn said. “Our immediate concern is that they have enough time off to regenerate their level of performance,” she said. The Tiger Olympians were given 11 days off before re-entering the playing field.
Holmes-Winn said she planned to monitor her Olympic veterans closely. “That whole buildup is really draining,” she said. “We’re nervous that come October, they might sort of flatten off.”
Their year preparing for the Olympics was much different than their time on campus, the athletes said. Having their sport effectively serve as their job, Julia Reinprecht said, meant that their minds and bodies had to be devoted solely to field hockey.
“There’s definitely a different level of professionalism when you’re on a national team like that,” Katie Reinprecht added. Day-to-day schedules were a grueling scramble of training, scrimmaging, and traveling, with running workouts on off-days. She said she expected that her return to college would be smoothed by her teammates, who sent encouraging emails throughout her Olympic run.
As the three women return to campus after a year’s absence, resuming the juggling act of being a student-athlete might be a challenge, however. “Trying to find the balance between academics and athletics again will probably be one of my greatest struggles,” Cesan said in an email.