Haley McBee’s freshman year didn’t exactly foreshadow a day when she’d become a prolific scorer for the VCU Field Hockey team.
It was a tough rookie year for the Stafford, Va. native. She struggled to keep up. The speed and physicality of the college game eluded her. She felt lost.
“Coming to college I was completely physically out of shape, and mentally I wasn’t there either,” McBee, a 5-foot-4 senior forward said. “I guess I kind of thought I’d be fine, but I didn’t really realize just how in shape you had to be for college.”
McBee’s results, four goals and two assists in four matches this season, are a far cry from that first year, or any other point in her career, for that matter. Prior to this season, McBee had scored three goals in 33 career matches. Now, she’s one of the catalysts of a 4-0 VCU squad.
She owes much of it to that challenging freshman season, when McBee appeared in a grand total of three matches. It was a humbling experience, one she vowed not to duplicate.
“After the fall season, I knew that I never wanted to feel out of shape and not ready for my team again,” says McBee, a 21-year-old exercise science major.
McBee hit the weight room hard that spring. Additionally, she has spent the past two summers on campus, working with the VCU Strength and Conditioning staff.
“It really makes a difference,” she said. “If you work out by yourself there’s only so much you can do for yourself. You can’t push yourself to the level where you’re exhausted and have to keep going. That’s how I am. I need someone yelling at me to keep me going.”
Rams’ Coach Shannon Karl agrees that McBee’s dedication have altered the course of her career.
“She gets [to the field] first, she leaves last,” Karl said. “She’s spent more time in the weight room than any student-athlete I think we’ve had. She’s really bought into working hard off the field as well, and I think she’s reaping what she’s sowed.”
McBee has also benefitted from a shift in the spring from midfield to forward. Whereas a midfielder is asked to serve as a type of quarterback on the field, directing the action, forwards have a narrower focus: get the ball into the circle and onto goal.
It’s made a difference in the way McBee approaches the game. She admits the responsibilities of the midfield overwhelmed her at times. But as a forward, she can focus and attack.
“I was excited about the move because I think I knew midfield wasn’t working out for me,” she said. I was excited to try a more attacking position, and I’ve fallen in love with the forward line.
“I was definitely a bit of a nervous wreck in the midfield. I feel a bit more calm and collected and know that specifically my job is to finish.”
After a slow start to her VCU career, McBee is finishing with a flourish.