‘Bear bear’ necessities of field hockey

Deanna Stevens

Junior player plans to carry team to success

Junior midfielder Berber Rischen protects the ball on Oct. 2, 2004, in Oxford. Rischen was the 2004 co-Player of the Year in the MAC last year.

Credit: Jason Hall

Opponents of the Kent State field hockey team will have a lot to bear this season.

Berber Rischen, pronounced and nicknamed by her teammates as “Bear bear,” last season’s co-Mid-American Conference player of the year, is ready to make even more of a name for herself this season.

 “I don’t think I played very well last season,” said Rischen. “I felt really out of shape. But I came into this season a lot more fit.”

The junior mid-fielder from Rotterdam, Netherlands, came to Kent State in 2003 and made an immediate impact. She led the team with 31 points, 11 assists, and 10 goals in her college debut. Then Rischen followed that performance with No. 5 ranking in the MAC for points and No. 3 in assists, along with scoring game winning goals in three games.

“Berber has excellent distributing skills,” said coach Kerry DeVries. “She can eliminate a player and passes very well. She probably has the best vision of anyone I’ve ever had.”

But Rischen’s dominance should be attributed to her parents, who are still in the Netherlands.

“I started playing field hockey when I was seven years old because my sister was playing it,” she said. “I wanted to play soccer, but at home it is more of a men’s sport so my parents wouldn’t let me.”

Only her mother and younger sister Ameliet have had a chance to see her play here at Kent State. While her biological family still lives overseas, Rischen has made a surrogate family with the team.

  “There are only two players from Ohio on the team; everyone else is either from out of state or is an international player, so this is our family away from home,” junior forward Kate Perry said. “We spend so much time together that we know each other inside and out.”

Perry is especially close to Rischen because both are the only international players in their class.

“This was the first year that we were hitting partners,” Perry said. “We both hit really hard so it prepares us mentally and physically for each game.”

Next season, Berber will have even more sisterly support, because her sister Ameliet will attend Kent State as well.

Rischen’s selflessness and humility has affected the whole team. “She has taught the team, especially the international athletes, that when playing for a team that you have to commit to that team,” DeVries said. “You have to put their needs higher than you own.”

Doing what’s best for the team is a staple for Rischen.

“Last year she would meet with me once a week to work one-on-one,” sophomore Libby Lame said. “It really shows how much of a team player she really is.”

With the announcement of DeVries’ departure next season, the team is looking forward to even more success in honor of their coach.

 “I was very surprised,” Rischen said about the notice. “But, I think it is a great opportunity for her and is an extra reason to do well this season.”

Contact sports writer Deanna Stevens at [email protected].