Adam Cheek, Staff Writer
Junior midfielder Maite Sturm is set to enter her third season on the field hockey team, and she has become a stalwart of the Rams’ lineup every week.
Last year, Sturm was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team and, for the second time, to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-South Region Second Team. The midfielder started all 19 games and scored seven goals, also tallying 11 assists and finishing second on the team in total points.
This followed up a strong freshman year, in which Sturm also received All-A-10 honors — this time on the Rookie Team — and was named to the All-A-10 Championship Team. She received conference Rookie of the Week honors in late August 2017 and went on to start in all 20 games that season, scoring six goals, two of which were game-winners.
Sturm hails from Waltrop, Germany, and she and her twin sister, fellow midfielder Svea Sturm, have made a name for themselves across the Atlantic and at VCU.
The Rams went to the A-10 title game last season, falling 1-0 to St. Joseph’s after a 12-7 season and a 7-1 record in A-10 play. The team scored 55 goals and averaged just under three a game, recording a few blowouts along the way.
“After last year, we were disappointed because [we] were so close to winning the A-10 for the first time for the program,” Maite Sturm said. “Now we are motivated to build a great team and to play good, so we tried to bond outside of the field with the team, and I think at the moment our team chemistry is good too.”
Sturm also said the team is extra motivated to face off again against St. Joseph’s, which visits Richmond in mid-October.
“This year, they will come to our field, and I think it will be an interesting game,” she said, “especially because we want to beat them now after they won the final last year.”
With the graduation of standout forwards Emily McNamara and Lauren Kaup last season, as well as midfielder Jessica Mays and defensive player Hannah Fox, Sturm moves into more of a leadership role as one of the longest-tenured players on the team, especially with eight freshmen joining the roster.
“I hope I could help the team with my experience on the field,” she said. “Especially with the new players, if they have any questions on or off the field. I know when I was a freshman, [I was] always a bit nervous.”
Sturm said, as a player coming over from Germany, the playing style is quite different in her home country than in the U.S.
“We start earlier, around five years old,” she said. “We learned, from the beginning, more technical stuff, and in America it’s more athletics.”
She chose VCU after meeting with coach Stacey Bean, who visited the Sturm twins in Germany.
“For me, it was good to have a talk with the coach,” Maite Sturm said. “[She] was new as a coach and she wanted to build a strong field hockey program, and I saw the potential in it.”
She hopes to help the program become even stronger and draw more players to the state’s capital and the program.
It’s not common for twins to play with, or against, each other, but Sturm says she and her sister have played together since they first took the field.
“Between us there’s no competition,” she said. “We both push each other to be the best version of ourselves, and I think it’s good to play together because we know each other so well.”
That connection translates on the field, too, she said.
“We know, ‘Oh, she’s going down the field and I can pass then,’ and things like that,” Sturm said. Sometimes we argue on the field, but it’s like that with every teammate a bit. I think it helps that you have someone on the team and someone on the field who knows how you play.”
Maite Sturm said that having close connections with other teammates is also important.
“It’s always nice to have someone, especially an American,” she said, “because you can talk to them and ask them questions. It’s [also] nice to have another German girl on the team and talk to her and share some stuff, because we share the same field hockey background and how we see the game.”
After she graduates from VCU, Maite Sturm hopes to return to Germany and complete a master’s degree in business and continue her career.
“I hope to go back and play field hockey there, [since] field hockey was always a big part of me,” she said.