German student takes the field

Germany's Merle Schrader is quickly become a strong field hockey player for the Pen High Lakers

MERLE SCHRADER of Germany plays basketball back home

MERLE SCHRADER of Germany plays basketball back home

Already skilled in sinking basketballs through hoops, Germany’s Merle Schrader is now learning how to score in field hockey.

Schrader, a resident of Bargteheide, in northern Germany, is playing for the Pen High Lakers and is quickly grasping the game despite the difficulty of only being able to use one side of the stick.

Schrader said playing field hockey has been hard because the sport is new to her. Schrader said it has been a bit of a challenge to control the ball. What doesn’t seem hard for her is finding the back of the net as she has scored four goals, including two during a 2-0 win against the Mt. Boucherie Bears last week. Early on, Schrader is enjoying field hockey and she said she’s improving with every practice and game.

Schrader’s coach Shaun Johnston said she’s shown great improvement this season.

Playing mostly left wing, Schrader’s role is to cut in to the far post when her teammates are bringing the ball into the attacking circle.

“She was certainly in the right place at the right time to score her two goals,” said Johnston of her play against the Bears, and added that Schrader has a good grasp of the winger position and where to be offensively and defensively.

“She had scored before by getting right in there by the goalie.” Johnston said that

Schrader, who is in Penticton until the end of January on a student exchange, is a pleasure to coach.

“She has a positive attitude and does her best to try new skills,” said Johnston.

Schrader enjoys Johnston’s coaching and likes her teammates, who she describes as being friendly.

“I make a lot of mistakes. They don’t scream at me, they just tell me what I did wrong,” said Schrader, who prefers team sports over individual. “I like them very much. I think we are good playing together.”

Johnston said it’s great to have an exchange student on the team.

“Everyone enjoys Merle, even if we can’t pronounce her name correctly,” joked Johnston.

Schrader looks to continue improving in her new sport. Asked if she would play back home, Schrader, who plans to also play basketball with the Lakers, said she’s unsure as it requires finding a team. The International Hockey Federation ranks Germany’s men’s and women’s field hockey teams first and fifth in the world, respectively.

They have also had several athletes win male and female players of the year awards. Germany has won back-to-back gold medals in the summer Olympics and took silver during the 2010 Hockey World Cup after winning gold in 2002 and 2006.