Playing for the red, white, blue, purple, and gold
By Troy Farkas
April 28, 2015
It’s 7 a.m. on a typical spring day at the University at Albany. The majority of college students are still sleeping after long nights of completing homework, studying for exams, and socializing.
Freshman field hockey star Anna Bottino is doing all of the above. Except she’s awake at 7 a.m. and ready to attack the day.
She usually starts the day with a 30 minute run by herself just to get the juices flowing for the rest of the day. After she is warmed up from the run, she goes immediately to spring field hockey practice at the athletic complex.
If she feels she hasn’t had a satisfactory morning so far, she likes to stay after practice to work on her individual skills before heading to her two classes of the day.
By the end of her classes, it is between noon and 1 p.m., and she has accomplished more in her day so far than the prototypical college student will for the entire day.
To put it bluntly, Bottino knows the keys to success, as evident by her accomplishments on and off of the field.
This past season, Bottino was named America East Rookie of the Year after starting 22 of 23 games for a Great Danes team that reached the Final Four in October. She earned Second Team America East honors, as well as a selection to National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-Northeast Region Second Team.
Despite her constant work in the offseason to improve, Bottino never expected the amount of success she and her team had in her first season at UAlbany.
“I thought I was going to be starting on the bench. The quality of play was very high and I had to get used to it,” Bottino said of the transition to NCAA competition. “I was really nervous the first game, but the team helped me adjust. If you do something wrong, they let you know.”
UAlbany won the America East conference to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Their team wasn’t expected to go as far as they did simply because UAlbany isn’t recognized as a national powerhouse in field hockey.
The Great Danes defied the odds by beating powerhouses Wake Forest and Maryland before falling to UConn in the Final Four. Bottino says her favorite UAlbany moment so far was when the Great Danes upset No. 2 Maryland to advance to play Connecticut in the national semifinals. They were the first UAlbany team in any sport to reach the national Final Four.
“We played our hearts out versus Wake Forest. To beat Maryland, we knew we had to play our game and play the best we could,” Bottino said. “It was the best moment of my career when the buzzer went off and we beat Maryland.”
The Danes would go on to lose 1-0 in the Final Four to UConn. However, Bottino and her teammates are proud of putting UAlbany on the map this year and are excited for the upcoming season in the fall.
”We are losing four seniors. But we have a very good class of freshmen coming in that will definitely add depth. We are going to need to take it one game at a time,” said Bottino.
Before even thinking about a second consecutive trip to the Final Four, Bottino is making sure her and her teammates are focused on competing in the America East first and foremost. Stanford will join the America East next season, which will certainly make the Danes’ trip to the NCAA tournament even more difficult than this past season.
And perhaps even more astonishing than the several accolades mentioned, Bottino was nominated to try out for the Under-19 USA Field Hockey team this past January. She made the team in March, and represented the USA in exhibition games in mid-April for one week in Belgium.
“It was an amazing experience to wear my country’s uniform along with some of the best girls in the country,” Bottino said of her recent trip.
She will continue to go to the team’s practice facility in Pennsylvania for four to five days every month for the next few months for team workouts and practices. She says representing the United States in the Olympics one day is definitely a dream of hers. Just as she doesn’t like to speculate about how far the Great Danes will go next season, she insists on taking that process, “one day at a time,” as well.