From an early age, Maryland field hockey midfielder Lein Holsboer knew she wanted to do something different. So when the junior found an opportunity to play field hockey and study at the same time, she jumped on it.
Holsboer, who is originally from the Netherlands, got in contact with a woman who helped her find opportunities to play in America. And when she visited Maryland, something clicked.
“The history of the university and all the national championships really attracted me,” Holsboer said, “and I came to visit and the atmosphere was just amazing.”
Holsboer is one of five international players on the team in 2016, but having players from outside the U.S. is nothing new for the Terps.
Maryland has had international players on their roster as far back as 1980, according to the all-time roster listed on the Maryland Field Hockey website. Last year senior defender Sarah Sprink, who hails from Germany, won Big Ten Player of the Year while current graduate student Welma Luus, who hails from South Africa, led the team with 20 goals.
Like most people who move to a new country, Holsboer had to adjust to a lot of new things, some as simple as the language barrier. She credited with Sprink with helping her from the start, as Sprink had made a similar transition. Now Holsboer tries to do the same for players on this year’s team, including fellow Dutch natives Sophie Pelzer and Anouk van Asbeck.
“I try to get them not to rush into it,” Holsboer said. “It took me a whole semester just to get used to everything.”
She has also been helping her roommate, Grace Balsdon, a graduate student from England who is in her first year with the program.
“Lein is a very positive person, and is always organized and on top of things,” Balsdon said, going on to say that her positivity carries on to the field.
“If we come away from a game and perhaps it didn’t go so well, she’s always the person who says to forget it and tells what we did well and what strengths we can take away from the game,” Balsdon said.
Holsboer also showed Balsdon around the school, and helped her adjust to life in America.
Since coming to College Park, Holsboer has been a solid contributor, and currently leads the team in assists with seven. The Terps are currently ranked sixth in the country and have gotten off to a 6-2 start, but the team still has a tough road ahead, including seven games against teams currently ranked in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Top-20.
“By playing good teams, you can only get better,” Holsboer said.
She said the team is focusing first on winning each game, and then getting a good seed for the Big Ten tournament. Although she doesn’t really let herself think about it, the ultimate goal is to add to the eight national championships listed on the scoreboard at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
“It’s definitely in the back of my head,”she said. “I want to get a number up there.”
Besides Holsboer, Balsdon and Luus have also been standout international players, and rank first and second on the team in scoring, with eight and seven goals respectively.
“One’s in the back half scoring, and one’s in the back half stopping,” head coach Missy Meharg said of Luus, a forward, and Balsdon, a defender.
Balsdon was also in Britain’s centralization program — which trains athletes with a focus toward the Olympics — and although she didn’t make the team, Meharg said it’s like having someone who did on the team.
“She deeply demands, loves the set pieces, wants to thrive on scoring goals and stop the top players when called upon,” Meharg said.
Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.