For former Temple Field Hockey center back Nienke Oerlemans, coming to the United States to play field hockey and receive an education was something she always wanted to pursue. After her mother Maaike van der Zee played for the Dutch National Field Hockey Team, Oerlemans knew she wanted to follow in her footsteps of playing the sport.
However, after spending five years at Temple, Oerlemans plans to move back home to the Netherlands to help other international players play collegiately in the U.S.
Oerlemans is a 2022 sport and recreation management alumna and also earned a master’s degree in management. She already started her virtual full-time job with Scholarbook, an agency based in Germany that helps student-athletes pursue collegiate athletics in the U.S.
Oerlemans is excited about her new role, which will allow her to combine her leadership skills with her love of the game.
“It’s like being in that manager role,” Oerlemans said. “I’m getting my master’s in management right now and being a three-year captain on a field hockey team is like being a manager. It’s making sure everyone has the same goals.”
Oerlemans’ position will include being a field hockey expert, where she will be in contact with American coaches and her European players. She will also help students create tapes to send to coaches, sales pitching and creating events like field hockey showcases.
The position is virtual, so Oerlemans will be able to move home to Apeldoorn, Netherlands, for the first couple of months to get settled in Europe. However, she hopes to move to Germany in the fall.
As a five-year player for the Owls, Oerlemans started in 78 of her 81 games during her collegiate career, anchoring Temple’s defense in all five seasons. Although she needed to adjust to new coaching staffs, her teammates helped her overcome the challenge.
“I think the main [reason why I stayed at Temple for five years] was my teammates,” Oerlemans said. “I could not imagine leaving them behind here. We haven’t had an easy journey here with different coaching changes. So, my teammates really got me through that.”
Leaving the team will be hard for her teammates too as her passion for the game, leadership skills and caring personality will be missed next season.
“She’s such a strong leader on and off the field by being a captain and in a leadership position,” said senior goalkeeper Molly Frey. “She does so much for our team and helps build the culture. As a friend, she is one that you can always lean on or go grab food with and if you have any serious issues she’s the one to go to.”
Oerlemans’ communication and skill helped the Owls give up only 24 goals during the 2022 season, ranking third in goals against amongst the Big East Conference. The center back also helped the team secure six shutouts during her senior season.
While her playing career is over in the U.S., Oerlemans plans to return during recruitment tournaments, like NFHCA Winter Escape in Florida, to help European players gain American college recruitment attention.
“There’s always a big tournament down in Florida,” Oerlemans said. “So, girls that might not get any initial feedback from the videos they submit. I’d be taking most likely 11 to 13 girls to play during that tournament. I might visit some of the players that I place at American schools, so I hope I place one at Temple.”
With most players returning next season, Oerlemans’ presence on the Owls’ back line will be missed. However, her passion to lead other international players will allow the next generation of collegiate talent to gain exposure to different programs in the U.S.
“She is kind of a Temple field hockey pioneer,” said head coach Michelle Vittese. “She was a part of the program through the last five years, which saw a lot of turnover and coaching changes.”
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