Junior midfielder Lenke Havas continues to help develop the culture of the Lehigh field hockey program as the team benefits from her international perspective on the game.
Havas hails from Maastricht, Netherlands, where she grew up playing field hockey. She said playing at home was completely different than playing at Lehigh. She played for club teams and only practiced a couple of times a week, which made for a unique experience.
“In comparison to here, back home, sports are not connected to your school,” Havas said. “My experience was always very separated with school and hockey.”
Havas was first inspired to pursue an education in the United States after a teammate was recruited by an American university. In order to get recruited in the United States, Havas said she had to take a more circuitous route than her American teammates.
Havas began the recruitment process with a European agency that helped her make a highlight reel. The video was then sent to college coaches across the country, and it was their responsibility to contact her.
After a number of different programs reached out to Havas, she had to decide which school would give her a well-rounded college experience.
“I kind of based my decision off of a good combination of academics and athletics,” Havas said.
Coach Caitlin Dallmeyer said recruiting Havas from overseas presented obstacles that were nonexistent with domestic recruits. The coaches didn’t have the same opportunities to get acquainted with her as they did with American athletes.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to meet her in person,” Dallmeyer says. “We were recruiting via Skype and email.”
Choosing to attend Lehigh meant Havas had to adjust to a six-hour time difference between her and her family. Particularly, Havas finds it difficult that she can’t always call her family in trying times.
“When things aren’t going as well, you don’t always have that option,” Havas said.
Although she grew up in the Netherlands, Havas quickly adjusted to life at Lehigh. Junior goalkeeper Stephanie Brabender said Havas is a reliable teammate and friend who has proven her leadership abilities since she first got to Lehigh.
“She’s really approachable and easy to talk to and get along with,” Brabender said. “She doesn’t really think twice about giving something up for someone else.”
Dallmeyer said Havas has shown tremendous growth over the years. She was voted to the team’s Leadership Council in her sophomore year and has mentored younger players.
“She is one of the most phenomenal players we have had come through the program,” Dallmeyer said. “But you wouldn’t know that from talking to her and how she carries herself.”
Dallmeyer said Havas has exposed the team to a different type of culture and has given the team diversity both on and off the field.
In 2020, the team will travel to the Netherlands with Dallmeyer to learn more about Havas’ culture and the place that led her to Lehigh.
Havas said the team has changed a lot since her first season as a Mountain Hawk, and, with two seasons left in her career, she is excited to see how her team continues to improve.
“The previous two years, we’ve been working really hard to rebuild the program and especially the culture,” Havas said. “I hope I can leave the team in good hands, and I know the people below me can take all the leadership roles that my class will leave.”
The Mountain Hawks look to expand on its three-game winning streak in its game against Holy Cross at noon on Sept. 28, in Worcester, Massachusetts.