October 2013

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Blind Faith By James Allan S enior Marike Stribos had blind faith when she joined the University of Iowa field hockey program. That leap has turned into one of the best decisions of her life. "This experience taught me so many things over the years," said Stribos, a midfielder from Brussels, Belgium. "I don't think anything could have substituted for it." Stribos began playing field hockey as a 4-year-old when her mother, Janneke, got her involved in the sport. Janneke played collegiately in Belgium, and she felt it was important for her children to participate in a team sport. When Stribos was a teenager, she played for the Belgium National Team, where she developed skills to compete at an elite level. In Belgium, players must choose between athletics or solely on continuing their education following graduation, but Stribos wanted both. "I wanted to combine field hockey and school, and at home, that is not possible," said Stribos. "When I got older, we had a family friend, Kerry de Vries, who played at Iowa, so she explained to me how the system worked in the United States, and I got interested." UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum first heard of Stribos through email exchanges and watching video. She was intrigued, so she felt it would be beneficial to travel the 4,500 miles to see Stribos play in person. "We thought it would be worthwhile to travel to Brussels, ride in a diesel Volkswagen through downtown to try and watch her play," said Griesbaum. "As soon as we saw her video, we thought she was of the level we wanted, and then we got the chance to talk to her and meet her parents. There was never a doubt in our mind." When Stribos arrived in Iowa City in August 2010, it was her first time in the United State and stepping foot on the University of Iowa campus. That didn't faze her. "I wasn't nervous," she said. "I was excited because I love field hockey so much. The coaches came to Belgium, so I had met them, and one of my classmates, Niki (Schultheis) is from Germany, so I met her before. "When I came here, we started preseason right away, so I didn't have to think about if I liked it or not because we were busy and going at it." Griesbaum says it takes a mature individual and a special player for the circumstances to play out the way they did for Stribos. "Those are the beautiful recruiting stories because usually it is such a long process," she said. "She had heard so much about Iowa from one of our alums, she did a lot of research on her own. She is very mature and so far ahead of her time. She wasn't intimidated at all coming here." Stribos stepped into the Hawkeye lineup as a freshman, playing in all 17 games with 16 starts. She finished with two assists. After struggling to a 3-14 team record in 2010, the Hawkeyes went to work and produced results. Iowa finished 15-5 with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011 before going 14-7 with a second-straight NCAA berth in 2012. "We got more mature and the spring after our first season, we worked hard in the weight room, on the field, and got a lot of practice in," said Stribos. "All the girls on the team understood it's not going to happen like this, we have to work for it. The next season we changed it around." 37

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