Jan. 28, 2009
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - As a sophomore, Navy women's lacrosse midfielder Caitlin Mandrin Hill (Annapolis, Md.) is already looked to by her teammates for leadership, both on and off the field. Mandrin Hill has proved herself an aggressive competitor with talent on both sides of the ball, while her winning attitude has helped keep her and her teammates motivated through the sometimes arduous preseason grind.
Earning multiple high school letters in both lacrosse and basketball, it was her insatiable drive that brought her down the path of collegiate lacrosse.
"I felt I could contribute more on the lacrosse field," explained Mandrin Hill. "I knew I had so much more to learn and I knew that playing here, with this incredible coaching staff, I could only get better."
The Mandrin Hill File
Full Name: Caitlin Marie Mandrin Hill
Position: Midfield / Defense
Hometown: Annapolis, Md.
High School: St. Mary's
One of six Navy players that stand 5-foot-10 or taller, Mandrin Hill is an imposing presence in the defensive midfield. Seeing time primarily out of the back a year ago, she ranked 11th nationally in ground balls per game (3.24) and led the Mids in caused turnovers (24).
How large of a role did the opportunity to play lacrosse have in your decision to come to Navy?
It was definitely a major part of my decision. Coming from an area high school, I was always familiar with the Academy, but it wasn't somewhere I thought I would end up. When Cindy Timchal contacted me and asked me to play lacrosse here - I was sold. It added a major positive to an already impressive package the school offered.
I've already had a lot of great experiences here. For summer training I went to Dubai and Greece. With the lacrosse girls, our whole team is like a family, always hanging out. You don't really get as close as of a connection elsewhere. We've all gone through so much together and we are stronger and closer because of it.
The Academy has always had a good club lacrosse program with a 111-22 record from 2000-07. Obviously that must have helped you in your decision to come to a fledgling program. What other aspects factored in your decision?
When I came here, the girls seemed so close and more like a family than a team. I realized that this was the kind of program I wanted to be a part of. Even though it was just starting, you could tell something special was being built here. I wanted to be a part of it and help where I could. I really think this year we're going to be even better than last and take a significant step forward.
Lacrosse aside, what other aspects drew you to come to the Academy?
You learn so much being here and you learn so much about yourself. You're always pushing yourself to the next level and learning what you can do. There's always a challenge, always something you can work on to improve. I love the feeling that I'm going to be productive every day. The Academy forces you to focus and motivate yourself. It mentally and physically makes you stronger and you are always being pushed to your next potential.
Both yourself and a number of your teammates have described the team as having developed a tremendous camaraderie. Why do you think that is?
For one, everybody goes through Plebe Summer, so through that you become really close with your classmates who are on the team. The upperclassmen have all gone through the same thing already so they are there to mentor you throughout your entire first year, motivating you to stick with it and keep on going. We have a terrific support system.
You've been on the defensive end for most of your playing career, but from talking with the coaches it seems like you have been taking on an increased role in the attack. What has that experience been like?
I love playing attack! I never realized how much until I came here. Playing defense I was always told not to cross that attacking line. Here, our assistants Kelly (Coppedge) and Kristen (Waagbo) have really pushed me to do so and have helped a ton in developing stick tricks.
I love being able to control the ball. Another plus is that you're always setting up your teammates for success. You have to be in sync with your teammates and know when they're going to cut or pass. When you get a pass in tight and your teammate rips it into the cage, it is a terrific feeling. Last year, you ranked 11th in the country in ground balls per game. What can you tell me about how you've become so proficient in that area of your game?
I think coming from a basketball background has given me a good knack for it. I can anticipate where the ball is going to end. Like Coach Waagbo always says, "A fight for a ground ball is like a knife fight. You don't go in expecting to lose."
Actually our coaches have a lot of great quotes, especially Cindy. We have a quote book for her. Recently her catch phrase has been "Get on the good bus." We're putting that on the back of our t-shirts.
Describe your favorite part of a lacrosse game?
Nothing matches the intensity and environment of a close game. You look at your teammates and you see everyone is on the same page, working for the same goal. When you come out with the win and you are celebrating with your team - there is nothing better than that.
Do you have any pregame rituals during the season? Anything you and your teammates before each game?
The night before the game we have a team meeting and we do a team squeeze. It's not as weird as it sounds. We're all in a circle and we hold hands and pass the squeeze around. We do it before every game. It's really funny because it usually takes place right after the coaches give their pregame talk.
There's always a lot of dancing that takes place in the locker room as well. It breaks the tension and helps put everybody at ease before a game. The whole team will get going, usually following Katrina Nietsch's
lead. I think we've gotten pretty good. Last year, I think Miley Cyrus' "Nobody's Perfect" was our song. As of our last team meeting though, I think its safe to say that Britney Spears' "Circus" is the new favorite.
The Mids kick off the second season of Division I lacrosse at the Naval Academy on Friday, February 13 when they host fellow second-year program Presbyterian.
### GO NAVY! ###