Oct. 10, 2008
STANFORD, Calif.- Recently, www.gostanford.com caught up with senior defender Bailey Richardson of the Stanford field hockey team for a quick discussion with topics ranging from her final season on The Farm, what it's like to be a defender in field hockey and why athletic department employees often get distracted before a field hockey match.
For the first time in 70 games, a Stanford field hockey starting lineup did not include the name Bailey Richardson. The 5-7 defender from Los Gatos, Calif., sustained a concussion against Radford back on Sept. 19 and sat out the next two games to end her consecutive career games started streak at 69. You're all fine now and have since returned to the field, but that had to be a little different watching from the bench?
"You just sort of stand there and pace the sidelines. I'd say that definitely cheering and being on the sidelines was more high anxiety than being on the field, because you don't have the release of running all over and tackling people. Our bench gets really worked up. It's like another form of team bonding on the sideline."
Last year's team rode a hot start all the way to an NCAA Tournament berth. This year's club has started slowly, mostly because of some hard-fought losses (seven defeats have been decided by one goal) and a grueling early schedule (four top-20 opponents over the first six games). What's the team's mindset at this point?
"We had a small senior class last year, so the three of us (Richardson and fellow seniors Chloe Bade and Hillary Braun) almost felt like we were part of the senior class in 2007 as well. We felt like we took on quite a bit of leadership. Last year's early schedule made it comfortable for us to come in with confidence and get started on a 6-0 streak. This year, we've faced off against some really tough teams and we all enjoy taking on that challenge. I still believe that when we're playing well this year though, it's at a higher level than we were playing at any point last year. We just have to figure out how to stay consistent. We will turn it around."
What you guys do have going in your favor is the experience gained from last year's conference tournament. The team got hot for three straight days, played well together and that translated into a NorPac Tournament title. Can you do it again?
"Yeah, I think so. It's going to be interesting. The way it usually works out is that we meet Cal in the championship game and we are on different sides of the bracket. So it will be interesting to see if we have to play them early on in the tournament. I'm positive that our team will come out with a lot of emotion no matter who we play. For us seniors, there's nothing left after that. I think our offense is starting to click and there is no reason why we can't put together another run like we did last year. I think we believe at the end that we're going to be there."
You are regarded as one of the premier defensive players in the conference. Describe what it's like to play at the defender position.
"Field hockey is an interesting sport. Unlike basketball or soccer, when you're going one on one with someone, the offender has a strong side and a weak side. So there are a lot of mind games you can play as a defender in terms of forcing them to go their strong side or weak side. But in the end, they are going to end up shooting the ball on their strong side most likely. So as a defender, when you are facing up on someone, that's an interesting part of field hockey that other sports don't have. Our defenders are some of the fittest, fastest players on our team, and we have to in order to run all over the field. We are a really tight unit back there and it has showed in the games that we have played. We haven't had a lot of goals scored against us in single games and our defense has usually kept us in the game because of their work ethic."
Field hockey has long been considered an East Coast sport, but Stanford's roster is littered with local players from all over the Bay Area. Do the rivalries make it even more competitive among teammates?
"It's funny because at this point I have been coaching the girls who are now freshmen, such as Steph (Stephanie Byrne) and Katie (Mitchell). They are both from Saint Francis. I'm from Los Gatos, with Marlana (Shile) and Jaimee (Erickson). We all went to high school together so we are like old friends. Actually they're just like my little kids- I've been watching out for them for so long and I was so happy when each of them got into Stanford. Nora (Soza) is from Mitty, and they are a huge rival of ours. I've actually known Nora for a long time but we are always talking junk about what happened in high school. One time I took a shot and it hit Nora's foot and went into the goal, so I always tease her about that. It's nice to be local though because our coaches recruit out of there and sometimes our high school teams will come watch our games."
Got a favorite Lesley Irvine quote?
"She's got the English accent, so yeah we have a few. Lately, I've heard her say `da bomb' on occasion. So that's probably my favorite."
Whether they are prepared for it or not, athletic department staff members who work in Arrillaga Family Sports Center always know when a field hockey game is about to start. What's the deal with the pregame festivities in the lower level of the building?
"It's just our way of getting ready for the game (laughs). It's kind of funny because we didn't really intend for it to be that loud. We thought our lockeroom was kind of a dungeon down there so we figured nobody would hear us. I think it might have been Jennifer Luther or Jess Zutz that got it started. We have a huge speaker in our locker-room, and we just get really, really energized before we head out to the field to the point that we have to calm down. There are lockers that we start slapping on the way out and get pumped up with a cheer. We carry it out of the lockeroom and down the hall. It's become our tradition."
Good luck with the rest of the year.
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Stanford returns to action on Tuesday, Oct. 14, as the Cardinal hosts Davidson in a conference match at 3 p.m. Three of the team's final five regular season games will be played at home, ending with a Nov. 1 matchup against California.