Monday, August 3, 2009

Artman Heps Team USA to Silver at Maccabiah Games

Wooster's Amanda Artman has made her mark on the NCAA Div. III field hockey scene the last three seasons, but this past summer, she proved she could hold her own with some of the best in the world, as helped lead Team USA to the silver medal at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Artman's Division III experience earned her a roster spot, sight unseen. She was unable to make a tryout in New Jersey last December, and instead submitted a highlight video along with a letter of recommendation from Wooster coach Kelley Hubbell. It was enough to earn her a spot on the 14-person roster, the majority of which were NCAA Div. I players, including those from top-10 programs like the University of Connecticut and Duke University.

Artman's play once she joined the team justified the coaches' decision and she earned the starting role at her usual center-forward position. During round-robin play, she helped the team to three wins out of four games, totalling three goals and one assist, highlighted by knocking in the lone score in a 1-0 victory over Argentina.

The Americans then drilled Germany 7-2 in the semifinals before losing a heartbreaker to Holland 1-0 in the gold medal game. The Dutch handed the U.S. its only other loss, 3-2 in the round robin.

For Artman, though, the experience was about much more than just field hockey.
“Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t realize what a big deal the Maccabiah Games (are) not just to Israel, but around the world,” she said. “The whole experience completely exceeded my expectations. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life.”
Artman’s play in Israel was actually her second international field hockey experience this year, as she spent the spring semester abroad studying in New Zealand. There, she joined a club hockey team, which competed in the country’s second-highest division.
“That was a really cool experience,” she added. “They were really good. They play very differently, and there was a different type of mindset because they don’t have college or university teams, so the age ranged from 16-year olds to late 30s.”
Now, Artman is getting ready for the 2009 collegiate season and looks forward to reuniting with her Wooster teammates. In her two full years with the Fighting Scots (she missed all but a game and one half of her sophomore season due to a shoulder injury), Artman has been a second-team All-American and a two-time North Coast Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year each time (2006, 2008). Statistically, she’s already the second all-time leading scorer in team history with 124 points (49 goals, 26 assists).

When asked about her honors and numbers, Artman quickly brushes them aside.
“Postseason accolades aren’t really important to me at all. Nothing would be possible without teammates. I don’t take that stuff very seriously.”
A dominant athlete in Div. III, she also proved this summer she’s a force when playing alongside some of the best in Div. I, so one might wonder why she didn’t take that route.
“I think I could play at that level. I think there’s a lot of Div. III players who could play at that level. It all comes down to what’s the right decision for you. Where do you place field hockey in your life and what else do you want to get out of college? For me, Div. III was a better fit.”
Often referred to as the “Jewish Olympics,” the Maccabiah Games have taken place every four years since 1957 and today are believed to be the third-largest sporting event in the world. Participation is open to all Israeli citizens as well as international athletes of Jewish descent, with this year’s Games bringing together athletes from 51 countries, competing in 31 different sports.

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