Field Hockey finding success recruiting from the Netherlands

After going over a decade not having a single Dutch player, Temple seems to be building a talent pipeline through the country.

Myrthe Schuilenburg is one of many players Temple Field Hockey has recruited from the Netherlands in recent years. | JARED TATZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Netherlands National Women’s Field Hockey team has been a world powerhouse for the last three decades. They have earned three gold medals in the Olympics since 1996, and have finished on the podium every year except 1992. 

Despite the country’s success, Temple Field Hockey did not have a single player from the Netherlands from 2006-17. In 2018, the program finally tapped into the Dutch talent pool, reeling in Nienke Orelemans. 

Landing Orelemans proved to be a major step forward in the program’s Dutch recruiting. Temple brought in Myrthe Schuilenburg, another Netherlands native the following season. Schuilenburg’s acquisition was thanks in part to Orelemans, whose presence on the team eased her anxiety about transitioning to the United States.

“I did feel at ease knowing that I had Nienke, but I was not looking for a program with a lot of international players,” Schuilenburg said. “I was going for the American experience but I did like that we already had one Dutch player because I knew I would have someone I could easily bond with.”

After landing Schuilenburg, the team added Tess Muller, also from the Netherlands, and Alizé Maes from Belgium, but also speaks Dutch. This offseason the program once again dove into the Netherlands talent pool, signing three more recruits from the country. When Temple opens the 2024 season, its roster is set to feature five Dutch players, and six who speak the language, a far cry from the amount the program had just five years ago. 

Head coach Michelle Vittese, who joined the program as an assistant in 2019 and took over as head coach in 2021, has significantly ramped up the program’s efforts in not only Dutch recruiting, but international recruiting as a whole. The team had players representing five different countries last season, including the Netherlands. 

“I don’t really care where our players come from,” Vittese said. “It’s just a matter of doing my best to build the most talented and capable roster and bringing in people that fit the bill of everything we are looking for.”

Orelemans, Schuilenburg and Muller each have blossomed as players during their time in the Cherry and White. Orelemans started every game in her final four years and earned all-conference honors her last three years. 

Schuilenburg has turned into a consistent starter and Muller has become one of the team’s best players, earning all-conference honors the past two seasons and leading the team in points last season.

Vittese has not been alone in building the pipeline from the Netherlands to Temple. She often has players like Schuilenburg and Muller make phone calls and reach out to other Dutch recruits, hoping they can help sway the recruits by sharing their own experiences. 

“We have been a big part of the international recruiting process,” Schuilenburg said. “Especially as internationals, we help her sell the program to other internationals. I have been on so many phone calls with other internationals to tell them what Temple is like and to give them our experience.”

Orelemans, the player who kick-started the developing pipeline, has continued to play an instrumental role in the team’s recruiting from the Netherlands even after graduating. While at Temple, Orelemans helped Schuilenburg and Muller adjust to their new home, while being someone they could feel comfortable around.

Orelemans moved back to the Netherlands after she graduated and worked as a “field hockey expert.” In her position, she helped current international players get in touch with college coaches to hopefully give them the same opportunity she got a few years ago. Of course, Orelemans tried to direct players towards Temple and let Vittese know who she needs to go after. 

“Once Coach Vittese expresses an interest in a recruit and if I believe they would be a good fit, I tell them that I went to Temple and that it is an amazing school with amazing coaches,” Orelemans said. “I also tell Michelle when I have a girl coming in that I think would be a good fit for her to look out for an email from me so she is aware of the incoming talent.”

The international players going to the United States typically aren’t looking for teams that already have a lot of international talent. During the recruiting process for Orelemans, Schuilenburg and Muller, they each were looking for a team that did not have too many Dutch players so that they could truly experience America and work on expanding their games.

“The first year I was here I was very shocked at how they went about field hockey because they focus a lot on strength training, while in the Netherlands we work more on technical skills,” Muller said. “I can definitely implement a lot of the American field hockey training into my game and vice versa.”

Temple seems to have found serious recruiting momentum from the Netherlands and with bringing in three new Dutch freshmen this fall, a talent pipeline seems to be in place. 

Orelemans has moved on from the program after being the first of the Dutch recruits, but she continues to help from the outside. Schuilenburg and Muller also help Vittese on the recruiting front and will have to help out the new Dutch recruits the same way Orelemans helped them. With continued strong recruiting, the Netherlands to Temple talent pipeline will continue to grow.

“That is honestly the goal,” Vittese said. “I hope to leave a lasting impression on these student-athletes and maintain good relationships and ask for any kind of assistance for them to be good representatives of Temple.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.