One-on-One with Carmen Braceras '20
One-on-one with Carmen Braceras of the Field Hockey team.
Carmen Braceras ’20 grew up playing ice hockey. At Dartmouth, she is using those skills to play for the field hockey team. Braceras, a freshman from Concord, Massachusetts, began playing field hockey in middle school. She played varsity at Concord-Carlisle High School, and she currently leads the team with 13 points.
Was the ice hockey connection the only draw to field hockey?
CB: Yeah, just because of the connection pretty much, I think. I had some friends who did it who also played ice hockey so I thought that maybe I would try it, and once I started I really liked it.
What is your favorite aspect of the game?
CB: I would say my favorite part is just after a goal is scored and just running together with your team and celebrating together.
What is an amazing game that you’ve had where you either scored a lot or just felt incredible afterwards?
CB: There was one game in high school when my team was losing for a significant amount of the game, and the final buzzer ran out and we were down by one goal, but we had a penalty corner, and in field hockey you can score after the buzzer if it’s a penalty corner. And the coach asked me what play I wanted to run and I told him which one I thought would work, and we did the play, and I scored on it. It was a great feeling because the whole team was really excited, and that was the game that actually qualified our team for the state tournament.
Why did you want to play for Dartmouth?
CB: Well, I’ve been coming to Dartmouth ever since I was little because my dad is an alum. So I’ve been coming for reunions, and I always knew that I wanted to play a sport in college. I didn’t know whether it would be field hockey or ice hockey, but once I started looking, I got to know the coaches, and I loved the team, the coaches and just the dynamic of the program here. So as soon as I was offered a spot, I accepted right away.
How does playing at Dartmouth differ from playing in high school?
CB: Well, the speed of the game in college is much faster. I think the team is also much closer-knit. The support system around athletics here is extreme. In high school, it was just an activity that people did after school. But in terms of the sport in general, I would say the speed is the main thing, and just everybody here knows how to compete, and there is nobody who doesn’t love the sport.
How often do you practice, and what do you do to prepare for games?
CB: So, we practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday always. Then we’ll practice Friday, Saturday, Sunday on the days that we don’t have games. So we either have games Friday and Sunday or Saturday and Sunday. Monday is usually our off day, but other than that we practice almost every day.
And do you do anything to prepare for games specifically?
CB: Before games we always have a team meeting with the coaches, and we usually have team breakfast in the morning. Then in the locker room we have team rituals that we do before a game to get us pumped up, some dancing and everything.
Can you tell me what you love about playing for Dartmouth, and what some of your best moments here have been?
CB: I love how everyone on the team is so supportive. The upperclassmen have brought in all the freshman and taught us how to be good teammates. It’s been awesome, I have so many people to look up to on the team. I would say one of my favorite moments so far [is] probably just the moments before games when we all come together in the locker room then out on the field.
Are there any things that you like less about playing for Dartmouth, and any moments when you have been less than happy with the outcome?
CB: I can say that we’ve been less than happy when we’ve lost. We are actually in a bit of a losing streak right now. It’s been tough, but a lot of the games have been close. Some of them have been one-goal-games like [against Brown University], or our [University of Pennsylvania] game was double over time. We have definitely brought a lot more fight to the past few games, and so we can start turning around those close games and start winning them.
What do you think the team needs to do to start winning games again?
CB: Well, definitely that turning point that I talked about. In our past two games we’ve been kind of rethinking what we need to do to prepare for games. Everyone is out there to fight [her] hardest, and I definitely have seen that in the past two games. I think we will be able to get a few wins in the near future.
What do you think you can do personally in order to help the team?
CB: I think just some technical things that the coaches have talked to me about, and taking more shots. Our whole team would benefit from that, but I think I personally could do that significantly more.
Do you think that technique and not taking enough shots have particularly led to this slump?
CB: Yeah, I think so, I think everyone on the team has been working really hard at practice to get better at certain things, and I think we just need to put all the little things together to get the outcome that we want.
Is there anyone else that you think could help the team, or does everyone just need to come together at the right moments?
CB: Well, our team is really small this year. We only have 17 people. Everyone on the team has been very important to every game no matter what [her] role, and the coaches make it clear that everybody’s role is equally important, and I think that’s really true. Because even though some people get different amounts of playing time, it’s just everyone is contributing in their own way.
Do you see anything in particular that could bring some more wins overall?
CB: I don’t think so. I think just staying on the same track, and just bringing the same focus to every practice, every game. And when it comes game time just turning up the intensity and being ready to fight.
What do you think the strongest aspect of the team is as a whole?
CB: I would say probably just our team unity in general and the resilience that we have. Obviously we haven’t always gotten the outcome that we wanted, but we have been able to turn around and work harder in different aspects, and to fight through it. And even though we are a very small team, we have great fitness compared to some other teams that have more people, so we can tire the other teams out, which has been very beneficial for us.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.