Sept. 13, 2007
Editor's note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, Aug. 2, 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 2007-08 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 -- The state of New Hampshire is nestled comfortably in the New England region of the United States amid neighboring Quebec, Canada, the Atlantic Ocean and fellow states Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. It is a pleasant fit. Likewise, New Hampshire native and University of Iowa senior Kadi Sickel is a nice fit for the Hawkeye field hockey team.
Coming out of high school Sickel knew she wanted to flee the Northeastern part of the country. She was intrigued by the UI and its complimentary field hockey environment.
"It's really unique that there is no field hockey played in Iowa in middle schools or high schools, so every athlete on the (UI) team is far from home," Sickel said. "That makes for a great team atmosphere. Everyone is in the same situation."
Sickel, a center defender, graduated from Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow, N.H., in 2004. She was named first team All-American and team most valuable player in high school. Since coming to the UI, Sickel has started all 60 games and has helped the Hawkeyes extend their streak of consecutive seasons without a losing record to nine. UI has gone 35-25 the past three years with two trips to the NCAA tournament. The Hawkeyes were 12-9 in 2006.
"We return a lot of strong players," Sickel said. "In the past we've always been viewed as a young team. Now we have a strong corps of upperclassmen and our ultimate goal is a national championship. That's very realistic for the team we have this year."
UI Coach Tracey Griesbaum is in her eighth season and has directed the Hawkeyes to an overall record of 80-54 with one Big Ten regular season championship, one Big Ten tournament championship and trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2006.
"Kadi made an immediate impact on our program," Griesbaum said. "She was a steady force in our defense right away and now she has taken greater pride in leading this team in a more powerful, potent way. She is so determined to cap off her senior season with success. She is very competitive and has a determination that is off the charts."
In 2004, when Sickel was a freshman, the Hawkeyes defeated Michigan 4-3 in overtime for the school's 100th victory at the original Grant Field before eventually winning the Big Ten regular season championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament in College Park, Md. Last season Iowa stunned the conference with victories against Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State to capture the league tournament crown which allowed the Hawkeyes to face Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C. The 2006 squad joins the 1994 group as the only UI teams to win the Big Ten tournament championship.
"Winning the Big Ten tournament was a large, awesome feat," Sickel said.
"We return a lot of strong players. In the past we've always been viewed as a young team. Now we have a strong corps of upperclassmen and our ultimate goal is a national championship. That's very realistic for the team we have this year."
UI senior Kadi Sickel
As a freshman Sickel had back-to-back game-winning goals against No. 8 Michigan and No. 19 Penn State. Of her five season goals, three were game-winners. She netted her first career goal against No. 1 Wake Forest. As a sophomore, she started all 18 games, scoring five goals. Sickel collected the game-winner against Stanford and scored twice during a 3-2 win against Michigan State. Last season she started all 21 games, scoring three goals with 12 assists for a career-high 18 points in a season. Sickel was named second team all-Big Ten and was a first team Dartfish/NFHCA Division I West Regional All-American.
"Kadi has great distribution skills and sweep-passes the ball with great speed and accuracy," Griesbaum said. "She will do anything to get the ball and possess it from the other team. She has great vision and knows our system."
Sickel said that despite the fact field hockey is a relatively anonymous sport in the Midwest, the Hawkeyes have a decent fan following, especially at state-of-the-art Grant Field, which opened in 2005. Iowa is 111-27 at home over the past 18 seasons and has never suffered a losing record in games played in Iowa City.
"Field hockey has gained a lot of public awareness over the years," Sickel said. "We have a loyal following of administrators and other athletes. We have a close relationship with other teams on campus -- we support volleyball, soccer, men's golf and women's basketball and they come out and watch us."
Sickel enjoys playing center defender because it gives her an opportunity to see the entire playing field and capitalize on her leadership skills.
"It's more about being able to direct and communicate to the team," Sickel said. "I embrace the leadership position. It's also nice having the ability to slow the tempo or push it."
Sickel said she enjoys the passion of the field hockey community. Because there are only 78 Division I programs that offer field hockey, she said there is a strong bond among those involved in the sport.
"I've made good friendships with people on other teams through field hockey," said Sickel, who was a member of the 2007 United States Under-21 field hockey squad. She joined teammate Caitlin McCurdy and a handful of other Big Ten players on the team that went 2-1-2 last March in Shanghai, China.
Sickel is majoring in theater with a minor in journalism and mass communications. Her immediate post-college aspirations include coaching field hockey at a place she says "where I'll fit best." If that happens, Sickel will become the 28th UI field hockey alumnae in the coaching profession.
"Coaching has always been a goal of mine," Sickel said. "I want to give something back to the sport. I want to use my knowledge to help others in field hockey."
Griesbaum has seen Sickel coach during camps and she said a coaching career would be a good fit.
"Kadi is very organized and she articulates very well to the campers," Griesbaum said. "She makes sure everyone has fun, but she is also keen on teaching something, too. She makes sure that when you leave camp you have learned something."
Sickel's Career Statstics
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