International freshmen fitting in on young Owls roster

The Owls’ freshman class features a player from Northern Ireland and a player from New Zealand.

On a team where 17 of 21 players are Pennsylvania natives, Kathryn Edgar and Maddie Merton’s hometowns stick out on the Owls’ roster.

Edgar, a native of Craigavon, Northern Ireland and Merton, who hails from Auckland, New Zealand, were both intrigued by going to college in America, but the freshmen midfielders took different paths to Philadelphia.

The Edgar family name is synonymous with athletes. Edgar’s father and brother were soccer players and her mother and two sisters were field hockey stars. Edgar first picked up a hockey stick when she around five or six years old.

“I had the choice to pick field hockey or Irish dancing, so I’m very glad,” Edgar said. “My mom used to play hockey, so I thought, ‘I’ll just copy my mom.’ I’m so glad I did.”

Merton emerged in New Zealand’s field hockey program much more recently. Her athletic career began with tennis and netball, a sport derived from basketball that is immensely popular in New Zealand.

Without ever having watched or played a game of field hockey, Merton was encouraged to try out for a team, becoming the first person in her family to play the sport. She started playing when she was in year seven in school in New Zealand, the equivalent of sixth grade in the United States.     

The United States immediately appealed to both Edgar and Merton, who wanted to continue their field hockey careers and go to school, something that isn’t available in Auckland, Merton said.

Once Edgar and Merton decided to attend school in the U.S., they were faced with the decision of which university they wanted to play for, and coach Marybeth Freeman’s role in the recruiting process convinced them to choose Temple as their homes for the next four years.

“Right from the start from our first conversation, you just feel her energy, her vision of what she wanted,” Edgar said. “She was straightforward, and anything you asked, she gave loads of information on.”

Their teammates have also played a fundamental role in helping the players adjust to their new lives. Edgar and Merton are part of an eight-member freshman class, which has led to a smooth transition.

“We were here about three weeks before classes actually started so it gave us quite a bit of time to transition into the training and ease into classes,” Merton said.

“The upperclassmen have worked so hard to make us feel welcome to the team, since day one,” Edgar added. “We all joined together, and we’re like a family.”

As they continue to welcome this next chapter in their lives, both Edgar and Merton have positive feelings on their first few months in the United States.

“It’s nice to be in a different environment, especially for college and meeting new people,” Edgar said.

Varun Sivakumar can be reached at

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