DURHAM, N.C. – Former Duke field hockey player Marian Dickinson ranks third on Duke all-time career list in points (151) and goals (58) and ranks fourth all time in assists earned (35). Since leaving Durham, the three-time All-America honoree has been busy with the Canadian National Team and pursuing her master’s degree. Recently, GoDuke.com caught up with Dickinson to learn more about what the Calgary, Alberta, Canada native has been up to.
GoDuke.com: What have you been up to since graduating?
Marian Dickinson: “I graduated in May of 2010 and moved to Vancouver to rejoin the Canadian National Team. Once I was here and got picked up, I figured I should probably do something else so I applied at the local university, which is the University of British Columbia to do my Master’s in Biomedical engineering. So for the last two years, I have been playing, training and touring while completing my master’s. I just finished that in December (2012). Now, I am attempting to balance national team hockey with a real job.”
GoDuke.com: What does your typical day look like?
MD: “It is really very similar to what I did at Duke. I was a biomedical engineer in undergrad. We would have weights in the morning, go to class all day and go to practice in the afternoon. Now it is pretty much the same, the day is just extended a bit. We train in the morning with weights or whatever, then I go to work all day and go straight from work to practice. It is busy but I love playing hockey. Playing for your country is an honor that you will never get a chance to do again, it is kind of a one shot deal. I am really loving every opportunity that it brings me, playing the sport that I love for as long as I can at the highest level that I can. Every day is a challenge and I am learning and experiencing new things. Then, with work, it is an entirely different challenge. It is a part of my life that I haven’t focused on that much in the last little while so that is all new experiences and lessons to be learned there. It is really nice at this point to have an income. It was time for that to happen.”
GoDuke.com: What is your favorite part of playing in international tournaments?
MD: “All of it. The competitor in me loves that I know that every time I step on the field to play a match I am playing against some of the best athletes in the world in my sport. I want to be one of those athletes, I always have ever since I started the sport when I was six or seven. It is really exciting to be up there and playing against people who are setting the standard for the sport and be where all the young kids aspire to be. That is really fun. Of course, every time you pull on the jersey that is a different feeling every time. Like I said, playing for your country is a huge honor and there is nothing else like it. Playing at tournaments for example, like the Pan Am games, where there is a big crowd and you might get to go the opening ceremonies and other events. Those are very unique experiences. Especially in a sport like ours, where there is not a huge following in North America, those times when you get the big crowds, you are kind of living the dream.”
GoDuke.com: What are some of the biggest differences in playing professionally and at the collegiate level?
MD: “The speed is so much higher, of everything. The ball travels a lot faster; the players are a lot more skilled and fast themselves. The required fitness level is also much higher. The game doesn’t change that much but everything happens a lot faster.”
GoDuke.com: What is the next big tournament for the Canadian National Team?
MD: “the Pan- Am Cup is in September in Argentina”
GoDuke.com: Did Duke prepare you well for the professional level?
MD: “I was very fortunate to play at Duke at time when we went to a couple Final Fours and also the championship game, experiencing college hockey at the highest level that I could. I think it was a natural leading point to playing at the next level. Of course, all the time management and skills you learn as a Duke athlete, there is not much else you can do to prepare for something like this.”
GoDuke.com: What is one of your top Duke field hockey moments?
MD: “There are a few. My first year, my first match, which was in Louisville, I scored a hat trick, which is pretty sweet. That will probably forever live on in my mind. Then, my first year, when we went to final game. The entire Final Four experience is lodged in my mind forever. Unfortunately, the goal that they scored against us [to win] is also lodged in my mind forever but that will happen. My sophomore year was a really special year because we had Maria Whitehead as our coach and she died that year from cancer. We went to the Final Four and we were playing against Wake [Forest] in the semi-finals and we tied it up within one minute of regulation by scoring two goals in one minute to take it to overtime. That was just unreal. Unfortunately, we couldn’t cap it in overtime but that was a really really special experience and the team was very together in that effort. We felt like we were playing for Maria. There are a lot of special memories from my time at Duke.”
GoDuke.com: What was one of your favorite off the field Duke moments?
MD: “Honestly, I loved everything about being at Duke and I miss it a lot. I just love the community of the university how every day when you walk into class you run into people that you know, even though I was going to the engineering quad and all my friends weren’t. Also, just how beautiful it is. It astounds you every day to be in a place like that for four years. My classes were great, my professors were great. I had an amazing experience to go with DukeEngage to Tanzania one summer. Those are some very special memories that Duke enabled and without my time at Duke I wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”
GoDuke.com: What did you do in Tanzania?
MD: “We worked with Engineering World Health. Dr. Malkin at Duke is very key in that organization. We were repairing medical instruments in hospitals for two months.”
GoDuke.com: Did the academic standards at Duke prepare you well for your future?
MD: “I felt more than prepared. I was ahead of the curve. Duke definitely prepared me for grad school. It is a different environment once you are outside of Duke. The expectation at Duke of its students and community is to always demand the best and expect the best. I think that is something that I’ve carried on with my own life to demand the best and expect that best out of myself and others. That served me pretty well and I think it will continue to do so.
GoDuke.com: What advice would you give to incoming Blue Devils?
MD: “I would say to take advantage of everything Duke offers. It is such a unique environment and there is so much opportunity there that you just have to make the time to take advantage of it. Just enjoy every minute of the experience there and live it to the fullest.”