Sept. 2, 2009
Editor's note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, Aug. 12, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2009-10 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Tricia Dean wants to help the University of Iowa field hockey team throw a colossal surprise party this fall. The Hawkeyes are nine months removed from an NCAA Final Four appearance, and after graduating eight seniors, it would be understandable to assume a rebuilding year is in order.
"We're all really excited to see what our potential can be," Dean said. "We want to surprise ourselves and probably the rest of the field hockey community because everyone is banking so much of our success on the graduating class. We have eight returners and eight freshmen, so it's going to be a learning process, but I think we can handle it and we have enough leadership in place that we'll do well this season."
One of those leaders is Dean, a senior midfielder from Bear, Del. As a prep at William Penn High School, Dean was named first-team all-state; during her junior season she led the state with 30 goals and 10 assists. As a Hawkeye, Dean has started 64 of 65 games with six goals, 18 assists and 30 points.
"Being a senior, Tricia brings experience," UI head coach Tracey Griesbaum said. "She has some grit -- she's not going to let her teammates slack around her and she stands for a lot of what we believe in with this program. She strives to do the best she can academically and when she crosses the line on the field with her teammates, she means business."
Dean and fellow seniors Meghan Beamesderfer and Jess Werley have enjoyed a successful and unprecedented collegiate career. From 2006-08, the Hawkeyes have compiled a record of 47-18 overall, a 9-0 mark with three consecutive championships in the Big Ten tournament, and two wins in three NCAA tournaments.
"A successful senior season would be a repeat of last year if not better," Dean said. "We have the same expectations, we just have different people."
A year ago, Iowa accrued winning streaks of eight and seven matches and finished 18-5. The Hawkeyes were eliminated in the NCAA semifinals by eventual champion Maryland, 2-1, in double overtime. During the last three Big Ten tournaments, Iowa has gone to Ann Arbor, Mich., Columbus, Ohio, and Bloomington, Ind., and emerged with spotless 3-0 records each time.
"That's just an awesome experience," Dean said. "It's awesome to go to other people's places and knock them out in the first or second round. It's obviously another goal of ours this season. We all know what it takes and the returners have seen the success and they will do fine."
Since 1982, the University of Iowa field hockey program has made 20 trips to the NCAA tournament and 11 Final Four appearances. The Hawkeyes have won 12 Big Ten championships and four Big Ten tournament titles.
As verified by a 3:1 assist-to-goal ratio, Dean, a team captain, would rather give than receive.
"I'm more of a distributor and a communicator," Dean said. "I'm not necessarily someone who will dribble through and eliminate five players with one move, but I think I am a really good team player. I can make other people look good with passes and shots."
Dean is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection who was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District second team as a junior. She spent the past summer lifting weights three times a week and balancing speed and agility training with endurance workouts.
"Tricia's fitness has been a strength of hers," Griesbaum said. "She brings an unbelievable amount of intensity and she thrives on training. The past year or two she's gotten stronger. She could always run, but now she can hang with the physical part of the game and give a few more hits and take a few more hits."
Listed at 5-foot-5, Dean isn't the most intimidating presence. Looks can be deceiving.
"My size doesn't exactly help me with physical play, but I'm not afraid to get in there," Dean said.
Griesbaum acknowledged that Dean has "bought into being a powerful player on both sides of the ball." For Dean, that doesn't translate into a certain number of goals or assists.
"I have other goals, like making a solid block tackle," Dean said. "Personal accolades are a bonus. Winning the Big Ten championship would be my immediate goal, then returning to the Final Four."
The Hawkeyes were 6-2 at home last season and they have 10 matches at Grant Field in 2009. League opponents who will come to town are Indiana (Oct. 2), Michigan State (Oct. 16) and Penn State (Oct. 18).
"In regards to our returners, they have all seen a lot of leaders go through this program and they know what it takes. They're going to step on the field and not miss a beat. The freshmen are spunky and ready to go. They will add more speed and versatility to our team and they're going to be good assets."
UI senior Tricia Dean
Grant Field is nearly 1,000 miles from Dean's hometown in Delaware. The marketing and management major enjoys this slice of the country and she said that when graduation looms in May, 2010, she wants to stay in the Midwest and work for an advertising firm.
"When I told people where I committed, they were like, `Why would you go to Iowa," Dean said. "Now I can go home and say, `Actually, we're Big Ten champs and we went to the Final Four'. We kept Iowa field hockey on the map so to speak."
During the remarkable nine-match run during the last three league tournaments, the Hawkeyes posted wins over three opponents who were ranked in the top 17 at the time, including two in the top 10.
"It comes down to our pride when it's time to play in the big time," Dean said. "We have our growing pains during the season; then when it comes time to actually show up and do something, we do it. Our camaraderie as a team allows us to do that year after year."
That Hawkeye depth and solidarity showed during a 7-2 exhibition victory at Kent State on Aug. 22. Eight different UI players either scored a goal or handed out an assist.
"In regards to our returners, they have all seen a lot of leaders go through this program and they know what it takes," Dean said. "They're going to step on the field and not miss a beat. The freshmen are spunky and ready to go. They will add more speed and versatility to our team and they're going to be good assets."
Iowa has gone 11 consecutive seasons with a record of .500-or-above. There will be new faces and new roles in 2009, but as Dean mentioned, the Hawkeye expectations remain the same.
"It's a new team, but it will still depend on our pride," Dean said.