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A fit Duke looks to improve

The Blue Devils may have found the secret to improving upon their performance last season, when they finished last in the ACC: ROTC training.

It was just one part of a preseason dedicated to keeping the team healthy and fit, something it could not claim during last year’s injury-ridden campaign.

“Our fitness coming into the season was above and beyond anything we’ve seen,” head coach Beth Bozman said. “We also did a fitness test, and this was the first year every player passed.”

Duke hopes this fitness, along with an increase in depth and team unity, will be some of its greatest strengths this season.

“We think we have a really talented group,” Bozman said. “In years past we’ve been scratching our heads to fill some positions.... We were hiding. We had holes. This year, we are three people deep in different positions.”

In addition to this depth, Bozman believes the increased competition for starting jobs will lead to the players pushing each other hard to improve. Contrary to last season, when much responsibility was placed on seniors Amie Survilla and Lauren Miller, all players will have broader roles this year.

“I think we leaned heavily on those seniors and the strengths they brought to the team,” senior tri-captain Sarah Schoffstall said. “Bringing in these freshmen with such a wide range of abilities has really helped our team become stronger as a whole.”

Furthermore, it seems as though the eight new freshmen have assimilated smoothly into the team, which bodes well for a squad that only lost two seniors to graduation.

“The freshmen… are very down to earth, and they’re hard workers,” senior tri-captain Samantha Nelson said.

The Blue Devils have high aims for the season, and expect to finish much higher than the No. 10 national ranking they received during the preseason. They also believe the combination of fitness and maturity they boast will ensure that 2009’s last-place finish in the ACC becomes a distant memory.

“We’re not allowed to gamble in the NCAA, but I would put very high stakes on us doing pretty well this year,” Bozman said.

While Bozman claimed this is one of the longest and toughest preseasons she has ever run, the players have made sure that their training remains as fun as possible.

“We’ve laughed together this preseason, and had a lot of fun,” Nelson said. “It’s that I want to go to field hockey practice.”


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