IOWA CITY, Iowa - - Nine prep standouts signed National Letters of Intent with the University of Iowa field hockey program, UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum announced Wednesday. Melissa Progar, Mallory Lefkowitz, Taylor Omweg, Katie Jones, Emily George, Torie Berkel, Julia Pommeline Korstanje, Veronique Declercq, and JoElla Guagliardo will join the Hawkeyes this fall.
"With the game of field hockey getting faster and more physical every year, I am extremely excited to add this freshmen class to our program," said Griesbaum. "We need their athleticism, technical abilities, and passion."
"They will be a part of every position on the field. This class is determined and extremely passionate about being a part of the Iowa field hockey program. With only four returning starters, the freshmen will be counted on heavily in their first year and throughout their career."
The incoming class joins a program that has 22 NCAA Tournament appearances and has produced 85 national All-Americans. Iowa advanced to the Big Ten Tournament title game in 2013.
Melissa Progar Midfielder Yorktown, Va. Tabb High School
About Progar: Progar, a midfielder from Yorktown, Va., attends Tabb High School with fellow incoming Hawkeye Taylor Omweg. Progar won Virginia AA State Championships with Tabb in both 2010 and 2011. She earned 4A first team All-State, Region, and Conference honors in 2013. Progar was a AA State Champion for Indoor Track and Field in 2013. Progar is a three-time Futures Elite Participant as well as a three-time time National Futures Championship Participant. Progar is a two time Junior Olympian. Progar earned first team All-State indoor track and field honors in 2012 and was a Virginia Region I Long Jump Champion in 2011.
Coach Griesbaum on Progar: "Melissa has outstanding possession and elimination skills. She is an explosive player with a strong offensive presence. Melissa has played various positions and will be able to step in at almost any position."
Why Iowa? "I have always wanted to compete for a successful DI program like the University of Iowa. I am impressed with the facilities, the beautiful campus, and the amazing coaches who have treated me like family. Once I visited Iowa, I realized that I could not imagine going to college anywhere else. The team welcomed me with open arms and I felt like I belonged there. I know that Iowa has so much to offer me as an athlete and student. I am ready for the opportunities ahead as an Iowa Hawkeye!"
Mallory Lefkowitz Forward/Midfielder Kingston, Pa. Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School
About Lefkowitz: Lefkowitz, a forward/midfielder from Kingston, Pa., attends Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School. Lefkowitz was a 2013 NFHCA First Team All American, 2013 First Team All-State (PA) selection, and the 2013 Player of the Year in the Wyoming Valley Conference. Lefkowitz is a 2013, 2011, and 2010 PA AA State Champion. Lefkowitz was the 2013 Wyoming Seminary School team captain as well the MVP in 2013 and 2012. Lefkowitz is a 2012 National Indoor Tounamen Silver Medalist, a 2012 PA Indoor Field Hockey Gold Medalist, a 2012 Junior Olympian, and a 2012 National Futures Participant.
Coach Griesbaum on Lefkowitz: "Mallory always displays great effort on the field. She is very skilled with and without the ball. Her tenacity on defense is exceptional and her offensive skills will help our attack immediately."
Why Iowa? "I knew I wanted to go to the University of Iowa the second I stepped on campus. The atmosphere of Iowa City was so welcoming and had a great vibe to it. Not only did the wonderful athletic program attract me to the University, but the academic programs did as well. Having great, known programs, I knew Iowa had a wide range of options on classes and majors to offer. As for the athletic department, I fell in love right away. Seeing the pride and dedication among all of the athletes in the athletic programs was truly inspiring and something I definitely wanted to be a part of. I am very honored and beyond excited to spend the next four years at the University of Iowa as a Hawkeye!"
Taylor Omweg Defender/Midfielder Yorktown, Va. Tabb High School
About Omweg: Omweg, a defender/midfielder from Yorktown, Va., attends Tabb High School with fellow incoming Hawkeye was Melissa Progar. Omweg was the 2013 Conference 19 State Field Hockey Player of the year as well as 2013 Tabb High School Most Outstanding Player. Omweg earned 2012 and 2013 all-district, all-state, and all-region honors. Omweg is a two time VHSL State Champion as well as a 2012 and 2013 Futures Elite Participant. Omweg is a two time Junior Olympian and a three time National Futures Championship participant. Omweg was a three time participant in the National Club Championship as well as a standout member of the Tabb High School indoor and outdoor Track Team. Omweg was the 2011, 2012, and 2013 VHSL State Champion in the 4x400m and held the state record in 2012 for both the indoor and outdoor teams. Omweg was the Tabb High School Track MVP in 2012.
Coach Griesbaum on Omweg: "Taylor is an incredible athlete. Her fitness and endurance allow her to play at a very high level for long stretches throughout the game. She will be a huge asset in our backfield."
Why Iowa? "I chose to play at the University of Iowa because it felt like the perfect fit. I love the atmosphere of the university, and all of the pride in athletics. I have always thought of the Big Ten as the top conference, and cannot wait to be a part of it. I know my coaches will make me the best I can be. August cannot come soon enough!"
Katie Jones Goalkeeper Virginia Beach, Va. First Colonial High School
About Jones: Jones, a goalkeeper from Virginia Beach, Va., attends First Colonial High School. Jones is a four year First Colonial Patriots starter at goalkeeper with 54 career shutouts. Jones, a 2013 team captain, was a Virginia AAA State Champion in 2011, 2012, and a runner-up in 2013. Jones was first team all-state in 2013, first team All-Tidewater in 2013, first team all-region in 2012 and 2013, and first team all-district in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Jones earned second team all-state honors in 2012 and second team all-district in 2010. She was an AAU Junior Olympic Participant in 2011, and 2012. Jones was a USA Field Hockey National Futures Championship Participant in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Griesbaum on Jones: "Katie is a very competitive athlete. Her quickness and overall athleticism will allow her to be competitive immediately. She will be a great compliment to our goalkeeping lineage."
Why Iowa? "No other school came close to the University of Iowa when comparing the dynamic aspects of the field hockey program, academics and campus life. I was very impressed with the Tippie College of Business' reputation via my online research and my campus visit sold me on the school's tremendous benefits related to my future. Campus life was very vibrant during my visit and the pride of the student body was very evident. There was something different in my campus visit that I didn't experience at any other school. I got the feeling walking around Iowa City that I was at home. Also, the wonderful training facilities, including Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the indoor turf, and of course Grant Field were exceptional. After watching the Hawkeyes enter Grant Field as a team, and playing as a very strong unit, I could see the history and tradition of a successful field hockey program and I knew that I wanted to be part of that tradition and contribute to its success. Most of all, after spending time with coach Griesbaum, Coach Cellucci and the entire team, it was clear that the program had the family-oriented values that I cherish, and their common goals to be a strong, motivated, hard-working and extremely competitive field hockey program exactly matched what I was searching for. I'm thrilled and honored to be a Hawkeye!"
Emily George Midfielder Lake Forest, Ill. Lake Forest High School
About George: Geroge, a midfielder from Lake Forest, Ill., attends Lake Forest High School. A 2013 team captain, George earned 2013 NFHCA High School Regional All-America honors. She was a 2012 and 2013 Illinois State Champion and a 2013 Huskie Invite Champion. George was a 2012 and 2013 Gateway Classic Pool A Champion. She also played Lake Forest Varsity Lacrosse from 2011-2014. George was a National Futures Championship Participant from 2011-2013 and a National Indoor Tournament Participant from 2011-2014. George was a Disney Showcase Participant from 2009-2013 and a National Hockey Festival Participant from 2010-2013.
Coach Griesbaum on George: "Emily is a very dynamic attacking player. She has incrementally improved her skill set since we started watching her play. Emily will be a big asset to our front field as we look to add variety and depth to our offensive production."
Why Iowa? "I chose the University of Iowa because of the tradition the Hawkeyes exemplified on the field and in the classroom. The support from the team, coaching staff, and university makes it seem like a big family and along with the values they advocate, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. The campus is beautiful and I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to play on Grant Field. The college town atmosphere really pulled me in and the school spirit is evident all throughout Iowa City. I can't wait to be a part of this team and the Hawkeye community!"
Torie Berkel Forward Escondido, Ca. San Pasqual High School
About Berkel: Berkel, a forward from Escondido, Ca., attends San Pasqual School. Berkel was a 2013 All-League selection and was second in the league in points scored in 2013. Berkel was a three-year varsity starter for San Pasqual. Berkel was a league Champion in 2011, 2012, and 2013 for San Pasqual. Berkel was a CIF semifinalist in 2011 and 2013, and a finalist in 2012. Berkel, a three-year USA Field Hockey futures participant, won a gold medal with Rush Field Hockey at the National Hockey Festival. Berkel was a Cal Cup champion as well as a silver medalist. Berkel was a four-year scholar athlete, a two-time San Diego Tribune All-Academic Team, and a National Honor Society member.
Coach Griesbaum on Berkel: "Torie will add to our potency on the forward line. She has a solid work ethic and a phenomenal attitude. She is enthusiastic about being a part of a successful team."
Why Iowa? "I chose Iowa because I fell in love with the coaches and the team and then I saw the campus and was sold. I really love the pride, tradition, and sense of family that comes along with being a Hawkeye. The Big Ten atmosphere, with a small town feel, is not something we experience much in California so it was really a draw for me. Iowa not only has an amazing top-ranked field hockey program but the academics are top notch as well. I am majoring in business marketing and was also impressed with the Tippie School of Business and honored to be immediately accepted into that program. I cant wait to call the University of Iowa home for the next four years. I am looking forward to becoming part of the Hawkeye sports and academic family and feel it will push, challenge and help prepare me both athletically and academically for my future. I am so excited to become a Hawkeye for life!"
Julia Pommeline Korstanje Midfielder Brasschaat, Belgium Sint-Michielscollege
About Korstanje: Korstanje, a midfielder from Brasschaa, Belgium, attends Sint-Michielscollege. Korsanje is currently a member of the Belgium U18 National Team and has been selected to play in the European Championships in Dublin, Ireland. Korstanje plays for the K.H.C. Dragons Dames 1 in the highest national division in Belgium and the team is currently ranked second in the country. Korstanje was a member of the U16 National Team in 2011 and played in the European U16 Championships in Valencia, Spain where she earned a silver medal. In 2011, Korstanje was selected to play for the National Team in the 5 Nations U16 Tournament in Germany. From 2009-2012 Korstanje was a member of the K.H.C. Dragons Junior Girls Club and became a Belgian Champion Girls Junior.
Coach Griesbaum on Korstanje: "Pommeline can play numerous positions, but it is likely she will compete for time in the midfield. She is a playmaker with a great sense of the game. Her specialty skills will be utilized on our attacking penalty corner."
Why Iowa? "When I visited the University of Iowa a couple of months ago, I was really attracted by its high academic level, large amount of facilities and high level of field hockey. I am completely convinced that the University of Iowa can help me to explore my talents, both as a student and as an athlete, enhance my academic and cognitive skills and prepare me for an international career that I desire. During my visit, I immediately fell in love with the beautiful campus and had a great time with the field hockey team. They really impressed me with their determined mindset to reach their goals, their hard work and discipline, and that's when I realized that this is a team I can really fit in and that the University of Iowa is a great place for my academic education. That is why I have decided to become a Hawkeye!"
Veronique Declercq Defender Mortsel, Belgium Regina Pacisinstituut
About Declercq: Declercq, a defender from Mortsel, Belgium, attends Regina Pacisinstituut. Declercq has been a member of the Belgian U18 National Team since 2012 and has been selected to play in the European Championships in Dublin, Ireland. Declercq has played for the Herakles Club for the past four years and currently plays in the Honour Division- Dames 1- the highest national division in Belgium. Declercq was a member of the U16 National Team in 2011 and was selected to play in the European U16 championships in Valencia, Spain, earning a silver medal. Declercq was a two-time captain of her team in the Provincial Tournaments in Antwerp.
Coach Griesbaum on Declercq: "Veronique will bring solid distribution skills to our backfield. She is comfortable moving the ball and has a keen sense of the game. Her specialty skills will be very beneficial with both our defensive and offensive penalty corners."
Why Iowa? "I want to combine my passion, hockey, with a good education. The University of Iowa has been recommended to me by several people as it can offer a lot academically, as well as athletically. Iowa has a very competitive hockey team and plays in the outstanding Big Ten Conference. Lisa Celluci and Tracey Griesbaum convinced me that Iowa is the right choice. The infrastructure and the support, experienced coaches, high-level training sessions, and academic resources that the student-athletes have at their disposal is unique and a key to success. It's a real honor to be accepted as a Hawkeye and to get the opportunity to grow as a student and as an athlete in this highly-ranked university."
JoElla Guagliardo Forward/Midfielder Deerfield, Ill. Deerfield High School
About Guagliardo: Guagliardo, a forward/midfielder from Deerfield, Ill., attends Deerfield High School. Guagliardo was a fou-time MVP at Deefield. Guagliardo was an IHSFHA All-Academic in 2011, 2012, and 2013. She was selected to the Illinois All-State Field Hockey team in 2012 and 2013. Guagliardo was the captain of Deerfield in 2013 and a member of the Windy City U19 Fire team ranked sixth nationally by USFHA in 2013. Guagliardo was also four-year varsity starter on the Deerfield Soccer team. Guagliado earned All-Conference Soccer Team honors and led the team to two consecutive CSL Championships in 2012 and 2013. Guagliardo was a member of Deerfield Honors Society in 2012 and 2013 as well as a member of the Spanish Honors Society.
Coach Griesbaum on Guagliardo: "JoElla is a high energy player. She is a hard worker who is very coachable. Her attitude and passion will be beneficial in all aspects of our program. She will be a great addition to our front field."
Why Iowa? "I chose Iowa because the university felt like a place where I could grow and learn on-and-off the field. When I first visited campus I could sense the amount of pride and spirit that the students and community took in being Hawkeyes and it was then that I knew that I wanted to experience it for myself. I was so excited to learn that not only does the field hockey program pride itself in creating phenomenal athletes, but also exceptional students. The university provides amazing resources to help student-athletes be very successful in the classroom and beyond. Instantly after meeting the coaches and the team, I could tell that the field hockey program here is a tight-knit family which I am looking forward to being a part of!"