Bell, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - With Aurelia Meijer being from the Netherlands, the Penn State
sophomore very rarely has her family in the stands.
Once each year, one of Meijer's parents flies nine hours to the United States to
watch their daughter compete. A few weeks ago, Meijer's mom was preparing to
make her trek to New Jersey to watch Penn State take on Rutgers.
"My mom was
mad because when my dad came last year I had a hat trick and she told me I had
to do it for her too," Meijer said.
Meijer's father was in the stands in University Park as the Nittany Lions
played the Iowa Hawkeyes. With the added pressure of her father watching her
compete in the United States for the first time, Meijer did what is rarely done,
scoring three goals in one game.
"He was so
excited. I remember it was on BTN and even he was on the television," Meijer
said. "In the Netherlands we don't have that. Only the national team gets
attention. The way we get attention here is so insane. When I made that
everyone was so pumped up. [My dad] teared up. He was so proud."
later, when it was Meijer's mom's turn to come watch her play, she wanted
nothing but the same outcome.
didn't do it because of them, but now they are even," Meijer said. "It was just
a coincidence. My team tells me to get my parents here so I will score more. I
would love to do it again."
from a small town in the Netherlands called Hattem. The field hockey field she
played on growing up was only a one-minute walk from her house.
practiced there three times a week," Meijer said. "My whole family played
there. All the sports complexes were right beside me. It's a really little town,
everyone knew each other. It's little and cute compared to cities here."
dad as her field hockey coach since she began playing at age six, Meijer said
she had no option to focus on any other sport than field hockey.
"My dad is
really good at field hockey and so is my grandpa," Meijer said. "He played in
the national Dutch game. He always would take me on Sunday's and I hated it. He
would teach me over and over again to be good. Now I am grateful, but then I
hated it. He always wanted to go to the turf with me. Now we go for fun. I play
with my sister against my two brothers. We always do games together."
As she got
older, Meijer knew that she wanted to come to the United States to continue
playing field hockey and get a degree in the country that she always heard was
so great and had so many opportunities.
She used a
recruiting service to talk to field hockey coaches throughout the country and
met them via Skype to find the perfect match for her future home. When Meijer
Skyped with Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, both knew that Meijer
would be a future Penn Stater.
her," Morett-Curtiss said. "She was just so enthusiastic. She had this
enthusiastic, positive energy. When we would Skype with her, she would get on
the screen and just yell, 'Hey!' She's just so genuine. What you see is truly
what you get."
that it came down to either Penn State or Northwestern, but there was something
about the connection with Morett-Curtiss Meijer could not avoid. After her
first official visit to Happy Valley, there was no doubt left in her mind. This
was her new home.
became the first international player to play on Penn State's field hockey
team. Although a historic moment in the program's history, this meant a lot of
new experiences for not just Meijer, but the entire team.
not Meijer's first language. Although she was taught English in high school,
she only felt comfortable with reading and writing. Speaking was not something
she had practiced regularly. Meijer had difficulties figuring out what time to
show up for practices, what things to bring to games and other simple details
that came so easily to an English speaker.
honest, I was really homesick," Meijer said. "Everything is so different here.
I love it now, but at the beginning I was shocked by everything. Not just food,
not language, but just how people act. People didn't always understand me and I
didn't always understand them. There's little details that people here don't
understand about how we act. It was so different. Because I was the first
international player, I had no one to lean on. It was really good for me
because I learned so much."
it only took three months for her to feel completely fluent in her new language
because she had no way around it. She had to speak it in class, at practice and
with her friends.
more comfortable in such a foreign land, Meijer Skyped her family a lot and
looked forward to playing field hockey every day. The freshman at the time,
focusing on having fun every day until she finally felt a little bit at home at
After a few
months of explaining her hometown and culture to her new teammates, Meijer was
able to show her friends everything she was talking about first hand when the
team traveled to the Netherlands last spring.
amazing," Meijer said. "That weekend was one of the best weeks of my life. Most
of the girls had never been to Europe. They were excited to see the culture. They
saw my family. The social life is so different. It was cool for them to see
what I was used to. I could never explain it really well because it was so
different. They saw it with their own eyes it was such an amazing experience."
first day of the trip, the team played on the little field beside Meijer's
house that was once her own.
that game, but it really didn't matter," Meijer said. "It was so cool that it
was my field with my new friends. I can't explain it. It was awesome."
When she is
at Penn State, Meijer can be found enjoying waffles at the Waffle Shop or small
coffee shops downtown. Although Thanksgiving break is too short for the
sophomore to travel back home to see her family, Meijer will visit Philadelphia
to be with some of her teammates. Once she finishes her final exams, Meijer
will be back in the Netherlands for winter break.
But this year, there is one difference. Instead
of being homesick, Meijer will be excited to get back to her new home in Happy
Check out Meijer recapping the Penn State field hockey victory over Maryland to clinch the Big Ten Tournament Championship title.