Wahine didn’t miss
the boat on Groenewoud

Game day

By Al Chase

Natalie Groenewoud once spent three hours on a ferry each way from her home in Sechelt, British Columbia, to Vancouver to play soccer for her club team, the North Shore Selects.

She was in the ninth grade then, just in her third year of playing soccer and survived the demanding schedule despite not returning home until midnight or 1 a.m. Soccer was quickly becoming her sport.

Groenewoud also was on the snowboarding team at Handsworth Secondary School, but that sport didn't offer college scholarships, so she decided to further her soccer career in the United States, where, she said, women's soccer is so big. Unlike most American athletes who are recruited, she recruited schools.

"It is really hard to get recruited in Canada, so I sent (UH) Coach (Pinsoom) Tenzing a video," said Groenewoud. "I also sent one to Western Michigan and to Georgia State and they offered me a scholarship."

Hawaii won the Groenewoud sweepstakes because her goal is to study natural medicine.

"I want to get into homeopathic medicine and Hawaii has such an amazing array of tropical plants," Groenewoud said.

The midfielder/striker arrived here last fall after a summer training with the British Columbia provincial team in preparation for the Canada Games in London, Ontario. Playing on basically an under-20 team where most of her teammates had three years of college seasoning, Groenewoud said it was a great experience.

It took her time to digest Tenzing's system and what he expected.

"Pinsoom has a way he likes to play the game. He explained it, but it took awhile for me to catch on. Now I'm comfortable with it and like the position I'm in. I love the running aspect," said Groenewoud, who has started every match at outside right midfielder this year.

"Natalie is a terrific kid and comes in immaculate condition every year," said Tenzing. "She had problems with her position on the field. I wasn't getting the productivity I expected. Now, she is in position, does a lot of quality work for us and serves the ball in a timely manner. The thing I like most is the way she comes back on defense.

"Her play is a mirror image of Joelle (Sugai) on the other side."

Groenewoud enjoys the offensive and defensive aspects of the midfield position, but feels she is a stronger defensive player. She gets a lot of satisfaction making a defensive stop and turning the play into an offensive opportunity for the Wahine.

"Our forwards are so strong and can get the job done," she said.

It wasn't until the spring semester that Groenewoud really had a chance to appreciate Hawaii, including the fact she just walks down the hill from her dorm to practice instead of bobbing on a ferry for three hours.

"After last season I had a chance to catch my breath. I flew here right from the Canada Games, it was hard being away from my family and then we had 9/11 on our first road trip," Groenewoud said. "By spring I was comfortable because I had a chance to see different parts of the island, to see what Hawaii was like. Now that I look back, it was all worth it."


Game Day

Who: Hawaii vs. Weber State
When: Today, 7 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m.
Where: Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park Stadium
TV: Sunday live on KFVE (Channel 5)
Radio: None
Admission/Parking: Free
Series record: Hawaii leads 2-1
Last meeting: The Wahine prevailed 1-0, Sept. 11, 1999

UH Athletics

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