February 4, 2023

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Mirte van Herwijnen is an award winner in America from the big leagues

Last season, Myrte van Herwijnen was active at SCHC. In the women’s big leagues, the keeper did less than a minute. Nevertheless, the SCHC player became the sub-national champion last year. Orange international Larian Leuring, among others, advised the keeper to embark on an adventure abroad at the end of the season. Van Herwijnen left. Successfully. The final post links one award after another in America.

Like many players now playing in the women’s big leagues, hockey players break out for a club in the big leagues at a young age. So did Myrte van Herwijnen. At the age of 14, Huizen, the hockey club’s goalkeeper, left for SCHC. His dream is to become a professional hockey player.

Gaya von Massacre

Hervijnen’s development went like clockwork. Within two years, the final post was already allowed to train with the Chief. As a result, van Herwijnen suddenly found himself on the field with a large group of professional hockey players who played for the Orange team.

“I still remember very well. First practice first, for example, I was on the field with Kaya von Massacre. It was her birthday and she turned 30. It was then that I realized she was half her age. I looked at her very straight. As is actually the case against a large part of the exam. By that time, several players had already played for the Orange. At any time I had the opportunity to further develop myself at Stiche” says van Herwijnen.

In the shade

Van Herwijnen was already allowed to train with players like Xan de Waard, Ginella Zerbo, Laurien Leurrink and thus Caia van Maasakker. The goalkeeper was also on the field with great goalkeepers such as Maddie Hinch and Alexandra Herbart. Goalkeepers who can pull up to Van Herwijnen.

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“Maddy, like me, was very short. So I can compare myself to her. If you’re short, you can cover less space in the goal. However, I thought Maddy was very good in shoot-outs, for example. I have a lot of respect for Alexandra. I look up to her. I think as a world keeper, I often saw her as my elder sister. I often stumbled across the grounds after her. She ultimately helped me make the difficult choice of whether to go to America or not.

Mirte van Herwijnen is playing at the University of Massachusetts this season.
Mirte van Herwijnen is playing at the University of Massachusetts this season.

Tough times for backup carers

Van Herwijnen didn’t really feature in coach Lucas Judge’s plans. The final leg, which also played for the young Orange in two Gold Cup games, was in SCHC’s goal last season. However, the talented goalkeeper never got a real chance to prove himself in the big league. Kohli found it hard to accept.

,, I have a lot of respect for Lucas Judge who was my coach at the time. This is a very good trainer. I respected him and the team, so I never discussed it. Earlier that season we talked about any minutes allowed in a game with a big lead. I don’t think Lucas was ever involved. It was tough going from playing all the time as a youngster to sitting on the bench at first. In the end, this made the choice to move to America easier.

Larian Leurink advises

After his final exams, van Herwijnen was approached by a company trying to get Dutch hockey talent to America. It is interesting that American universities attract the best players. Universities can earn additional revenue if their group performs better nationally compared to other universities.

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Van Herwijnen explains: ,, I had a hard time going. Actually, I’m going to stay with SCHC this season. When my co-star Laurin Lurink once asked me in the car: ‘Hi Mirte, are you still going? You are still young. Go out and have fun!’ I decided that. I grabbed the opportunity to play hockey at the University of Massachusetts with both hands”.

The American Dream

That is why van Herwijnen left SCHC. The club is still on his wish list for the keeper to return to. Because the goalkeeper is thinking about returning to Bilthoven after four years at most.

Hervijnen plays a normal tournament in America. A big difference with the ones in the Netherlands is that players can win prizes in every tournament round. These so-called awards are profitable for a university because an amount can be won. Van Herwijnen won five awards in a short span of time, including Rookie of the Week, Student Athlete of the Week, All-Championship Team, First Team All-Conference and Second Team Northeast Region. Multiple awards for an early hockey star in America.

Absolute top

At her university, everything revolves around sports. Not only does Hervijnen train and play matches when needed, but he also has free access to coaches, psychologists and, for example, Adidas clothing packages. Exams will be modified if required. This is absolutely not a problem for the best hockey players of the Netherlands. Although hockey is seen as ‘professional’ in the Netherlands, players do not have the privileges that professional players have in the US.

,,I was afraid that the level of hockey in America was much lower than in the Netherlands. I was afraid it would make me a lesser goalkeeper. Fortunately, this turns out not to be the case. What I struggle with is missing my family. It’s not always easy. Right now I have to choose whether to stay here for one year or four years. I’m leaning towards the latter, but still not sure. This winter I’m talking to my old coach, Lucas Judge. It will be clear then whether I will pursue my American dream”.

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