Nathalie Gruet ’15, from nearby Acton, Massachusetts, has been playing field hockey since junior high. As center middie for Wellesley, she was named NEWMAC Field Hockey Offensive Player of the Week in September, leading the Blue to several victories this season. The Boston Globe noted her performance on Oct. 12 for her then lead in NEWMAC with 39 points; she now has 46 on the season.
Field hockey most recently finished an undefeated 8-0 season in the NEWMAC after a 4-0 victory over MIT last Tuesday and 4-1 over Clark this past Saturday. The Blue now stands at 15-2 overall.
Besides playing field hockey for the Blue, Gruet also maintains a demanding academic schedule as a political science and economics double major. She recently sat down with The Wellesley News to discuss balancing her time as a student athlete, bonding with the team and her love of the sport.
A.L.: What has been the most memorable moment for you so far this season?
N.G.: I have so many memorable moments. But one in particular: We just found out that we just clenched our league, so that was a huge and definitely memorable moment. Another vivid memory I have is, as a team, we went went to one of our teammate’s houses along the beach, and we spent the weekend there. That was such a great time off the field. The overall season is something that’s been really great. Our team is really close to one another. One thing I’ll never forget is that I’ve gotten hit by the ball so much this season, which is not the norm. I got hit in the chin and split my chin open, so that’s something I’ll remember.
A.L.: So you mentioned the house, but are there other ways you and the team bond off the field?
N.G.: Off the field, our team is very close to each other. We all joke like, “We have no other friends except for each other!” We’re not upset about that; we kind of put that on ourselves. While other teams have to bond, and we don’t have to. We naturally are like, “Want to watch a movie together?” I think that’s something really unique to our team. But after victories, if it’s a home game we have a tailgate with our friends and families. If it’s an away game, we’ll just come back and relax and hang out. And we have a victory song. This past summer, our field hockey team went abroad and played for a week in Holland, and while there we got to see the world cup for field hockey, which was huge. There, they had this song playing, and it was really catchy, and that’s our song now. In Holland, field hockey is like second nature to everyone, so we were like, “What? A song about field hockey? That’s never the case!”
A.L.: What else did the team do on the trip to Holland? Does it happen every year?
N.G.: The whole team went except for the freshman who joined this year, including one of the seniors from last year. That’s part of the reason why we’re so close; we’ve been playing together for so long. We played against three other club teams who were really good. We played against a group of 16-year-old girls who were really good, then a team that was about our age, then another one with people our age and a few people older than us. Then we got to mingle with them. There after a game, you have a meal or a drink with the team. It’s more of a social context, so we got to meet them and got to tour around the area. We also went to Belgium for a day, which was a lot of fun. This was the first time we’ve done it. We got a new coach my first year, so after she came we were able to start that. But hopefully it’ll become a thing every four years or so.
A.L.: So you presented at Tanner this year for your internship at the State Department. What kinds of influences from the sport do you think carry over to your professional career?
N.G.: Athletics has helped me a lot with my time management and my approach towards things. In the workplace and I think even at Wellesley, the time you put into things is the time you get out of it. In sports, that’s definitely the case. An example of that is in the summer, we have a fitness packet we have to do. It stinks, but if we want to have a successful season, it’s what we need to do. When our team does that, we end up doing well, which is why we have it. I think that’s how I translate just a small thing like that to the workplace. If I have an assignment, I’m going to do it well because that’s the product of it. And I think at Wellesley everyone is motivated and very smart, but we don’t get that many opportunities to work together. In the workplace, there’s not going to be many times you’re working by yourself. You’re going to have to collaborate a lot, so being on a team has provided me with a lot of opportunities and experiences, like having to overcome small little conflicts and using effective forms of communication, which is something really applicable and necessary that you can’t learn in the classroom.
A.L.: As a student athlete at Wellesley, how do you balance your commitment to the team and to your schoolwork?
N.G.: It’s tough, and it’s gotten easier over the years, but definitely in season my life is field hockey and studying. But at the end of the day it’s my choice, so I have to be responsible for what comes with it, and I wouldn’t change it any other way.
A.L.: How do you think you’ve changed since joining the team?
N.G.: I’ve improved a lot as a player in just how I play and my skill set. My high school team was very close, and my freshman year it was hard for me to be part of part of another team because my best friends from home were all on my field hockey team. At Wellesley at first, it was very different and hard for me to get accustomed to. But I think in realizing that now in my senior year, our team is so close, and it feels very similar. So I think with patience and understanding that things change year to year, it’s different each year as you just take on a different role. From freshman year to senior year, my responsibility levels and expectations have changed, too.
A.L.: The season is ending soon, but what are your goals for the rest of the season, whether for you or the team?
N.G.: Team goals and personal goals go hand in hand. Personal goals come with doing well as a team. As a team, my dream, our team goal would be to get to the [NCAA] Final Four, but that’s by no means an easy task. Keeping a more short hand perspective would be to win NEWMACs and to reach where we were last year. Last year we made it to the [NCAA] Elite Eight.
A.L.: Do you plan on playing after college?
N.G.: I think my body needs a little bit of a break. It hasn’t hit me yet, that this is my last season. I don’t think it’ll hit me until I can’t come back next year. But I think I’ll keep playing or try to stay involved in some way, whether coaching or playing in an adult women’s league. I love playing team sports, so I definitely want to do something with it.
A.L.: What will you miss most about field hockey?
N.G.: I think I’ll miss most my teammates, because that’s the reason why I play at the end of the day.
Having wrapped up conference play, field hockey will play UMass-Dartmouth today at 4 p.m. at home. To follow will be NEWMAC championships on the weekend of Nov. 8 and 9.