In the Locker Room with Megan Bautista and Rachel Zuckerman


Effie Kline-Salamon

Rachel Zuckerman (left) and Megan Bautista

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

Neither of you played field hockey last year. What has it been like coming back to the team this season?

Megan Bautista: I think what’s really unique about our positions on the field hockey team and the field hockey program in general is just how accommodating they have been thus far. That is something that is completely unorthodox within athletics. For once, I don’t feel like I have to apologize for being involved in other areas of campus and for putting my priorities out there clearly. I’m an athlete, but I’m also a student, an organizer, a senator; I’m also doing all this other stuff. Coming back to field hockey and having that kind of freedom has been really exciting for me.

Rachel Zuckerman: We really have the ability to express our concerns in an environment that accommodates us. The relationship between the coach and the players is improving. We talk about things that really need to be talked about.

Did you struggle at all with conditioning at the beginning of the season?

MB: [Laughs.] I think I’m the most fit person on the team. On a serious note, there’s no amount of preseason or training or conditioning that could prepare us for the position we’re in right now. It’s constant sprinting. I’m playing 70-minute games as a center-forward and I’m all over the field. I’ve gone from around four minutes of play [as a first-year and sophomore] to 70 as a senior with no subs.

RZ: We actually have extremely high physical capabilities, and we’re able to adjust extremely quickly to athletic conditioning. [Laughs.] We not only bring the game, we bring the pain.

Do you feel like you’re back to playing as well as you were when you played your sophomore years?

MB: I feel like field hockey is kind of like riding a bike as far as stick skills go. It’s even more so like a fine wine — it gets better with time. I think all of our skills have only continued to improve. Now it’s just an issue of working together as a unit.

RZ: The senior thing gives a nice little confidence boost, and it shows on the field.

There are only 14 players on your active roster. Tell me about the difficulties playing with such a low number.

MB: I would have to start an itemized list. It’s dangerous, first of all. I think the challenges are that we can go into a game playing really beautiful hockey as a unit — and we’ve been giving every team in the conference a run for their money — but by the time the second half rolls around, we’re really exhausted. It’s the same group of girls playing the whole game. Normally you’d split 50 yards between 11 players, and we’re doing it between seven. There’s a lot of room for error there. Also, it’s just so physically taxing.

RZ: Hydration is really difficult. We’ve been facing some really adverse conditions with the amounts of subs we have, which is zero. We’ve been playing three down constantly, so that means we’re playing 11 versus 7. By the second half, the other teams realize our game, and they have a fresh set of legs to throw in.

As seniors, do you feel compelled to be leaders on the team?

MB: I don’t think compelled is the right word. I think that if I wasn’t a leader on the team, our needs would be met anyway. [Senior] Hannah Christiansen and [junior] Taylor Swift have been phenomenal in communicating the needs of the team. It’s been a dream having them as captains, and I do not feel compelled to step up and assume that position at all. I think it’s amazing that as someone who has felt compelled to step up in literally every other part of my life, I don’t feel that way on this team.

RZ: We started the season with the mentality that we were going to understand what we needed as individuals to make ourselves a stronger unit, and I think that that shows that each of us can be a leader in our own way. There are a lot of really strong women on this team. The two of us like to be a comedic interlude to any stressors that are being created. We also try to do a lot of on-field communication that might not be so comfortable for underclassmen.

How have injuries affected the team this season?

MB: We have six injured players right now, and that’s as a result of having no subs, I’d say.

RZ: We have two people who just got cleared to play, including myself, so that’s exciting.

Tell me about the win against Earlham.

MB: In the past, we’ve pretty much walloped Earlham. The other schools in the conference view Oberlin the way that Oberlin views Earlham. Earlham is the absolute scum of the earth in athletics. They can’t get their shit together. But we actually went into overtime in this game. Again, it comes down to numbers. We had played DePauw the day before, and DePauw is No. 1 in the conference, so our legs were sore heading into the game against Earlham. Earlham scored first and we were like, “We can’t be losing to Earlham right now!” All of the sudden [sophomore] Maureen [Coffey] and [sophomore] Ari [Enzerink] had a beautiful pair of goals and then we won on a golden goal. [Sophomore] Maggie Gossiaux also played an amazing game.

What’s it like playing at the new Austin E. Knowlton Complex?

MB: It feels good to finally have home field advantage. Before this, we were the only team [in our conference] that played on grass. We are a better team on turf. What’s really kind of frustrating is that it’s been brought to our attention that the men’s football locker room has two 60-inch TVs and beautiful chairs and it’s a good space for studying and we definitely don’t have that.

RZ: I think there [are] definitely some [attempts by] small liberal arts schools to appeal to a certain audience of athletes that they’re looking for, and that involves putting a lot of money into something that a lot of people on this campus wouldn’t support.