LEWISBURG, Pa. – Less than one week after its first practice of the preseason this past Wednesday, the Bucknell field hockey team will be stepping onto the Graham Field turf for a scrimmage against perennial top-10 opponent Syracuse. The Bison host the Orange Tuesday at 1 p.m. as they prepare for their season opener Aug. 29 at Rutgers.
Bucknell head coach Jeremy Cook enters his seventh year on the sidelines. He has a very systematic preseason practice schedule, which includes three very hard days this week to kick off camp. The Bison will have only one practice Saturday before taking Sunday off. Monday’s practice will then feature some preparation for Tuesday’s scrimmage.
“The goal is to establish a foundation where we can get a lot out of the scrimmages,” explained Cook, who will also lead Bucknell in a home scrimmage vs. the University of Toronto on Aug. 26. “We use the preseason to establish a foundation and establish a vocabulary with the new players and get them on the same page and build an understanding of our structure. A team like Syracuse is going to point out all our loopholes and problems, but we need the foundation and framework to have constructive discussions after playing that game.”
In the first three days of practice Cook has been impressed by the freshman class and he predicts a few will play big parts this year. He also cited Cassie Lawrence as an upperclassman who is in terrific shape and playing well.
“We are returning our last two team MVPs, which is kind of neat,” commented Cook. “We are farther along than we have ever been, but I say that every year. You never really know how good you are until you get tested.”
The Bison will be tested early on as they will have five road games before they play their first home contest Sept. 20 vs. Temple. All five road games will be played in New Jersey or Philadelphia, which are important recruiting areas for Bucknell.
“It is an awesome challenge,” Cook said with a smile. “It is really fun to go places and play against schools that have traditionally been higher in the RPI. They have great facilities and it is good to get out where our families are from.”
Cook and his coaching staff have had an interesting tool to use through their first few days of practice. During the offseason the program purchased heart rate monitors for their student-athletes. The heart rate monitors transmit information to a laptop on the sideline and Cook is able to monitor how hard the players are working and their recovery rate, among many other items.
“We are able to take a look at the information and design our physiology objectives for that training session and whether we accomplished our goals,” noted Cook. “It has been a great tool and makes things really easy to see.”