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Spanish Sensation: The journey of first-year field hockey back, Lucia Ventos

Every year, Miami University athletics brings in athletes from all over the world. For the Miami field hockey team, this year's class brought in the newest international recruit, back Lucia Ventos. 

Ventos, born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, came to Miami University as a first-year student in 2023 to pursue her field hockey career. Although competition is tough and stakes are high when joining a team that made an NCAA tournament run in 2023, Ventos has already seen quite a bit of playing time for the RedHawks, who have won the last six Mid-American Conference (MAC) titles. 

Ventos made her collegiate debut in Miami’s season opener at the University of California, Berkeley on Aug. 25. She saw 40 minutes on the field that game, and shortly after she scored her first goal on Sept. 15 against Longwood University. 

Prior to Miami, Ventos attended Escola Betania Patmos School in Barcelona and played for the Junior FC field hockey club. Her experience with the sport started back home with her family. When Ventos was 6 years old, her father taught her to play. 

“All my family plays field hockey, and it’s just a familiar sport,” Ventos said. “My younger brother who is 13 also plays.” 

For Ventos, coming to Miami was a great opportunity to play field hockey and earn an education, potentially in the field of strategic communication. Still, traveling thousands of miles from home to pursue her athletic career hasn’t always been easy. 

What makes the transition slightly easier is having her teammate and hometown friend, sophomore midfielder Paula Navarro, alongside her on and off the field. 

“I have known her since I was little. She was already here when I came so she has just helped me with everything,” Ventos said. 

The two are among the many athletes on Miami’s team from all over the world.

Head coach Iñako Puzo says he loves diversity on his team. It provides a different way of playing the game bringing in people from all over the globe. 

“You would not be able to win 20 games if all of them are international athletes. They bring a different perspective of the game,” Puzo said. “You would also not win too many games with just American players.”

As a native Spanish speaker, the language barrier has been difficult for Ventos, especially when it comes to the sport itself. Field hockey has slightly different rules in America, and the vocabulary surrounding the game is different. 

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“It’s not the same game we play in Spain,” Ventos said. “Here it is a more physical game. You run more.”

The combination of athletes brings out the best in them on and off the field, leading to some great successes, as seen in last year's season. Puzo appreciates the women sharing their different perspectives within his program. 

“During your time here in the field hockey program, you are going to build some sort of legacy, and when you leave and come back years later you can still see that little piece that you built in the program, your contribution,” Puzo said. 

Ventos said that the community of Miami’s field hockey team — an instant group of friends — has made the transition from Spain to America much easier as well. There are five other Spanish players on the team.

“It is easy to fit in a group here, once you arrive from another country and you are on a team you already make friends,” Ventos said.

For the RedHawks, this season has a lot in store. Puzo has been Miami’s field hockey coach for 13 years, and he has led the RedHawks to a 64-16 record in the MAC. 

“Miami is a great institution and it attracts very great people,” Puzo said. “It is very enjoyable to coach people that make your life easier and make your life better.” 

The team heads into the stretch run of its season as six-time-reigning MAC Champions, and there is high competition in the works. Right now, the RedHawks are 9-7 overall and 4-1 in the MAC, tied with Appalachian State for the top spot in the conference. If the season ended today, Miami would take the MAC regular season crown, since they own the tiebreaker after beating Appalachian State earlier in the season.

Ventos has continued to see field time, averaging over 35 minutes of playing time per game so far. She hasn’t scored again since Sept. 15, but as a first-year, she’s seeing significant minutes at one of the best programs in the country.