Signing Day Central

NEWARK, Del. Rolf van de Kerkhof, head coach of the 2016 National Champion and University of Delaware field hockey squad, is enthusiastic to announce the addition of seven student-athletes for the fall campaign.

Van de Kerkhof, who will be in his seventh season at the helm of the Blue Hens, and his coaching staff will welcome players from three different states and three from The Netherlands in the form of two midfielders, four defenders and a forward.  Delaware will lose four student-athletes to graduation in the coming weeks.

“As a program we are really excited to welcome our new Blue Hens this summer,” remarked Van de Kerkhof. “They are all great individuals who understand the importance of working hard, being mature, having a plan, knowing their why, doing the right thing, the importance of family, and working together towards individual and team goals. The way our new players complement and already interact with each other is amazing. They really have utilized every opportunity they could find in recent months in getting to know each other and play together. Thanks to their bonding as a class and playing together while being exposed to Delaware Hockey will allow them to arrive in August at an experience and understanding level equal to that of freshmen halfway the season. I believe many of them will be in the position to contribute to our on-field success from the early going and could be part of our team's rotation.”

Van de Kerkhof continued, “I would like to thank my coaching staff, support staff, players group and all the academic advisors for their assistance in the recruitment and education of our now incoming freshmen over the past two-plus years. Thanks to their teamwork and passion for our University of Delaware, we are welcoming another strong and self-driven group of Blue Hen field hockey student-athletes ready to pursue excellence in the class room and on the field.”

Newcomers include Conner Allen (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne's County/SPark FHC), Lotte de Koning (Vreeland, The Netherlands/RSG Broklede/Pinoké), Emily Kresho (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford Senior/High Voltage), Ellie Schepens (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park/SPark FHC), Femke Strien (IJsselstein, The Netherlands/Cals College Nieuwegein/SCHC), Emma Velez (Coatesville, Pa./Bishop Shanahan/WC Eagles) and Joosje van Weperen (Naarden, The Netherlands/Gemeentelijk Gymnasium Hilversum/Gooische Hockey Club).

Below are biographies on each of the seven incoming Blue Hens in addition to comments from both Van de Kerkhof and the respective student-athletes.

Conner Allen | Midfield/Forward | Centreville, Md. (Queen Anne's County/SPark FHC)
A standout that has led Queen Anne's County High to new heights, Allen is a NFHCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region, two-time All-State and four-time All-Conference selection that guided the Lions to the first-ever MPSSAA 1A State Finals appearance in school history.  Allen has also shown similar success in the classroom as a two-time NFHCA National Academic squad honoree in addition to a two-time Ben Carson scholar.  Allen also played club alongside current Blue Hen Ally Pollak and future teammate Ellie Schepens.  The daughter of Vince and Liz Allen, Conner intends on majoring in English.

“Conner is an extremely hard worker, eager to learn, excellent communicator, very coachable and has solid basics, which are all qualities which will allow her to grow her Blue Hen performance. Her high work rate will also motivate and challenge her teammates to stay with it longer and therefore show an overall increase of our team's performance.”   – Rolf van de Kerkhof

“As soon as I visited Delaware's campus during my freshman year of high school, I knew I wanted to spend my college years here. The University makes me feel as if I was at home, and the team is like another family to me. There was no question about my commitment to the University of Delaware and I cannot wait to officially start as a field hockey student-athlete!” – Conner Allen

Lotte de Koning | Defense/Midfield | Vreeland, The Netherlands (RSG Broklede/Pinoké)
An all-around midfielder and technical player, De Koning helped guide Pinoké to a national championship during the 2013-14 season under head coach Harm de Bruin.  Pinoké also collected the silver medal, bronze medal and a fourth place finish. The daughter of Jochem de Koning and Karolien Verel, Lotte intends on majoring in biochemistry.

“Lotte is hockey smart with and without the ball. She will be able to organize the play and players around her thanks to her own development and the experience she gained playing at the highest level of her age group and exposure to training and competing at the major league senior level. I am excited for Lotte that she has chosen to become a UD Honors student in addition of a Blue Hen field hockey student-athlete.” – Rolf van de Kerkhof

“I chose the University of Delaware because of the welcoming atmosphere on campus and in the team, in addition to the philosophy of the program. The University has a very good academic program as well as an outstanding field hockey program. The team really gives me the impression of being a great family; I am very excited to become a part of that.” – Lotte de Koning

Emily Kresho | Defense | Fredericksburg, Va. (Stafford Senior/High Voltage)
The 2016 Region 5A Virginia State Player of the Year, Kresho guided the Indians to an 18-2 mark while reaching the regional title game.  The defender was also named the Conference 15 Player of the Year, was a member of the MAX Field Hockey Mid-Atlantic All-Region Team and is a two-time Team MVP. The daughter of John and Deb Kresho, Emily intends on majoring in computer science with the intention of becoming a software engineer.

“Emily has the drive and intelligence to become a quality player and teammate for the Blue Hens. She is passionate, very hard working, and creative in learning and finding ways to improve and tackle challenges. She also displays leadership qualities which is something we look forward to further develop and see to what extent Emily can become a leader within our team in the future.” – Rolf van de Kerkhof

“My decision to become a Blue Hen was primarily influenced by one visit I made to Delaware. The coaches and some players made a presentation that showed the field hockey program as a family that was equally devoted to the game, each other, and to one's education. I wanted a program that would help me excel in next level field hockey as well as allow me to excel academically. I found all of that in the University of Delaware.” – Emily Kresho

Ellie Schepens | Forward | Severna Park, Md. (Severna Park/SPark FHC)
An All-State Second Team honoree this past season, Schepens has guided Severna Park to two MPSSAA 4A field hockey state titles and regional championships. In the classroom, Schepens has been recognized on the Honor Roll, Principal's Honor Roll and National Honors Society in addition to receiving the Minds in Motion Scholar Athlete Award and AP Scholar with Distinction Award.  The forward has been a member of the SPark field hockey club since 2010 and has played alongside current Blue Hen Ally Pollak and future teammate Conner Allen. The daughter of Wayne Schepens and Jennifer Schepens, Ellie plans on majoring in computer engineering with a minor in cyber security.

“Ellie's energy and readiness to communicate combined with a drive to attack and score will allow her to help in our goal production. Ellie's attacking mindset, her speed and ability to find the goal should put her in the position to score goals for the Blue Hens as a freshman. I know Ellie is going to do well as a UDFH student-athlete and also believe she will do great being a UD Honors student at the same time.” – Rolf van de Kerkhof

“I was so lucky to find the University of Delaware!  The combination of strong academics and competitive field hockey was so important to me in my school search.  When I visited UD, I learned that I could have it all here.  The engineering program is top notch and the hockey team is a passionate driven family lead by a fantastic coaching staff.  I can't wait to start my education in the fall and work to contribute to this amazing field hockey program.” – Ellie Schepens

Femke Strien | Midfield/Defense | IJsselstein, The Netherlands (Cals College Nieuwegein/SCHC)
One of three to join the Blue Hens as international student-athletes this coming year, Strien has played more than 13 years for SCHC and HC IJsseloever.  The daughter of Ron and Karin Strien, Femke intends on majoring in health behavior science.

“Femke has an excellent skill set and vision, is calm under pressure, and level headed, which will allow her to contribute to the team early on. Femke likes to keep it simple which will help her and others around her to a higher level of Delaware Hockey. Her personality and characteristics will allow her to grow into an on-field leader for the Blue Hens.”  – Rolf van de Kerkhof

“I committed to the Blue Hen field hockey program and the University of Delaware because it will allow me to be both a student and an athlete at a high level. I believe that I can improve myself as a field hockey player, as well as academically. After I visited the University of Delaware, the kindness and helpfulness of the people I met convinced me to become a student-athlete here. I hope to contribute to such a positive atmosphere the coming years.” – Femke Strien

Emma Velez | Defense/Midfield | Coatesville, Pa. (Bishop Shanahan/WC Eagles)
A recent selection to the USA Senior Indoor National Team, Velez is a three-time First Team All-Chesmont National Division and three-time All-Area Honorable Mention honoree.  As a member of the WC Eagles club team, Velez received four NIT gold medals while also serving as a gold and silver medalist at the Disney ESPN Showcase, National Hockey Festival and Keystone State Games. The daughter of Robert and Lorraine Velez, Emma plans on majoring in exercise science with the anticipation of becoming a physical therapist.

“Emma will be in the position to join the rotation and add value to our competition squad. She displays strong technical and tactical abilities and her understanding allows her to be confident in her qualities and contribution opportunities. The commitment she made to her own development and the sport have created her opportunities to join the Blue Hens and also being named to the US Field Hockey National Indoor Team.” – Rolf van de Kerkhof

“I committed to play field hockey for the University of Delaware because it was the perfect fit for me academically and athletically. I started coming to clinics at Delaware about four years ago and immediately I knew I loved their style of play and coaching techniques. The next part of my decision relied on finding a perfect academic match. Knowing that I wanted to become a physical therapist, I realized Delaware afforded me the best opportunities to pursue this career. Between the STAR campus and the ability to have an Exercise Science major, I knew the University of Delaware was the place for me to be.” – Emma Velez

Joosje van Weperen | Defense/Midfield | Naarden, The Netherlands (Gemeentelijk Gymnasium Hilversum/Gooische Hockey Club)
A top competitor in the Netherlands, Van Weperen spent the past four seasons as a member of the Gooische Hockey Club.  While with GHC, she competed in the Super B League and National League before guiding the squad to the 2015-16 Super A League championship.  Van Weperen played under coaches Pierre Regnault, Eric Dijxhoorn, Marjolijn Bianchi and Peter Hortulanus.  The daughter of Saskia Simons and Willem van Weperen, Joosje plans on majoring in biological sciences.

“Joosje has a skill set and hockey understanding that allows her to play confidently. She is calm with the ball and has excellent vision and strong distribution skills. Her play ability should allow her to join the rotation in our backfield where she will help us both on defense and generating the first steps on offense.” – Rolf van de Kerkhof

“The field hockey program of Delaware is well structured with a great vision, where I can be challenged and develop as a field hockey player, student and person. In daily life I am focused on achievements in sports and study and I will give all I have to achieve a goal for myself and for the team. At the same time, I also like social interactions with family and friends to enjoy life together. UD has a professional program that seems to offer all of these elements with attention to my development in sports, study and socially.” – Joosje van Weperen

MEDIA CONTACT: Maggie Hayon, Assistant Sports Information Director | mhayon@udel.edu | O: 302-831-6389 | C: 302-379-9182