Broadneck field hockey standout Ena Belch trains on a national scale

August 6, 2014
With the season fast approaching, Broadneck's Ena Belch is focusing on improving her conditioning and speed. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

There could not have been a more inconvenient time for Ena Belch to get sick. The Broadneck junior had just received one of the biggest honors of her athletic career thus far — an invitation to the Team USA Field Hockey Junior National Camp in Lancaster, Pa., as one of 110 athletes chosen from around the country to try out for the U-17, U-19 and U-21 National Teams.

But by the second day of camp, Belch was in the hospital at nearby Franklin & Marshall College and out of tryouts. She’d been feeling more tired than usual, then began vomiting, and finally went to the hospital where she received an IV and it was suspected that a stomach virus had added to her dehydration. She was able to participate in the last day of camp, but her illness had kept her out of much of the tryout and eliminated her chances of making the U-17 team.

“I had been looking forward to it so much,” Belch said. She had earned her spot with her performance at the National Futures Championship. Belch was reluctant to check the final list of team selections, knowing she wasn’t on it and dreading seeing the names of girls who had four full days of healthy playing time to wow the national coaches.

But Belch, a sprinter in the spring for the Bruins’ track teamand a starting forward for Broadneck’s 2013 region semifinalist squad, is known for her resilience and energy, and bounced back to attend World Camp with the Bruins last week. She’s got two more years of varsity to try to get Broadneck out of the loaded Maryland 4A East in the playoffs and garner offers from Division 1 schools.

“Besides having exceptional skill, I think Ena has incredible drive in her and I don’t think you could ever doubt her determination on the field or as an athlete,” Broadneck Coach Jen Plack said. “She puts so much time into being the best, and she wants to succeed and loves the game, so she doesn’t mind putting in the time.”

Belch always goes nonstop, her coach said, and this summer was no exception. The first week out of school was spent at the Futures Elite tournament, and soon after she was at a tournament with her club team, SPark, leading up to the Junior National Camp. She is at Maryland’s camp this weekend. Her schedule fits well with the year-long campaign underway by the U.S. Men’s National Team to attract interest in the sport — #NoDaysOff.

One of the annual highlights of the summer is World Camp USA, where most of the Bruins players and incoming freshmen gather to learn from Dutch coaches in thrice daily sessions on the turf at Swarthmore College. Drills and games are accompanied by a constant stream of European techno and popular songs chosen by the coaches. It’s a vital bonding experience for the team going into the next season, and the perfect opportunity to pick out a bunch of unexpected Dutch songs for the pump-up mix and soundtrack of the season.

Belch’s “off days,” if she manages one between camp and work as a hostess at an Irish restaurant in Arnold, Md., are for team workouts or quick runs on her own. The Broadneck players get together twice a week for preseason workouts, one day in the weight room focusing on their core and legs, and the other outside on the track. Usual outside training might include bleachers, 100-meter or 50-meter sprints on the turf, or sprinting the 100-meter length and running the curves of the track. Broadneck’s tryouts include a timed 1.5 mile run which the players are expected to finish in under 11 minutes and 30 seconds. Belch’s most recent time was 9:03.

“I like running, I don’t mind it,” Belch said. “But I like it more when coaches are telling me to run.” She will jog around her neighborhood for 20 minutes on days when the Bruins don’t train, and finish the laps with a sprint to work on building speed.

“She always says, ‘I don’t really like to run, I really like to sprint,’” Plack said. “She’s just one of those girls who pushes herself no matter what shes doing.” Her ability to run might make her appear to be an ideal midfielder, but Plack said that any coach that watches her play can discern a natural attacking ability.

Ena’s ability to possess the ball and maintain possession and her relentlessness inside the attacking circle are the most distinct parts of her playing ability, Plack said. The work put it in this summer, both on her own and at camps, will only prove to increase the junior’s skill and make her a player to watch in the competitive Anne Arundel County scene.

“I always try to go very hard,” Belch said of her workouts. “If you really try your best and push yourself, it really makes a difference. If it’s sloppy, you won’t get much out of it as if you put in 100 percent.”

More from the Summer Workouts series

Jefferson’s Andrew Seliskar embraces the grind in the pool

Churchill lacrosse standout Louis Dubick gets physical

DeMatha sprinter Darryl Haraway Jr. tinkers with his start

Paul VI G Frank Howard works his way back into form

Quince Orchard DL Adam McLean focuses on conditioning

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