Croon Brings Distinctive Perspective to Cavaliers

By Jeff White (jwhite@virginia.edu)

VirginiaSports.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Within the practically 20 years she’s led the College of Virginia area hockey program, Michele Madison has coached quite a few gamers from the Netherlands, the place the game is immensely in style. Amongst these Dutch gamers, nevertheless, Jans Croon stands alone.

Croon, who’s heading into her third 12 months at UVA, straddles two international locations. She was born within the Netherlands and lived there till she was 13, when she moved to america along with her mom and stepfather, who’s American.

“It was purported to be only a 12 months, and a 12 months in Los Angeles didn’t sound too unhealthy,” recalled Croon recalled, whose first title is pronounced Yahns. “After which we simply form of ended up sticking round for one more seven years.”

Because of this, Madison famous, Croon is “very a lot nonetheless Dutch and she or he’s very a lot American. So there’s a twist along with her background.”

Earlier than transferring to the U.S. as an adolescent, Croon had some familiarity with this nation. She’d attended kindergarten in Los Angeles, and through that 12 months she began studying English. Nonetheless, she stated, when she returned to California as a 13-year-old, “I didn’t know write, I didn’t know any grammar, and I positively wasn’t fluent on the time. However I simply form of went to center faculty, and also you choose it up so quick. I simply form of adopted what my classmates have been doing, and it labored out.”

NCAA area hockey is a fall sport, however Croon has had a busy offseason too. She’s spent a few of her summer time in Europe—her father and most of her prolonged household dwell within the Netherlands—and a few of it within the States, the place she and different members of america’ Below-21 nationwide group not too long ago competed in a match in Virginia Seaside.

Again in April, 4 gamers who’ll be on the Cavaliers’ roster this fall—Croon, Madison Orsi, Daniel Mendez-Trendler and Mia Abello—helped america’ U-21 group win the gold medal on the Junior Pan American Championship in Barbados.

Croon, who has twin citizenship, collected one other gold medal final month, this one as a member of Crew USA on the inaugural Hockey5s Pan American Cup in Jamaica. Hockey 5s is a model of the game launched by the Worldwide Hockey Federation (FIH) in 2014. In Hockey 5s, either side has 4 gamers and a goalkeeper, and boards that encompass the perimeter of the sphere hold the ball in play.

That Croon’s star is rising with USA Discipline Hockey doesn’t shock Madison. The 5-foot-6 Croon, who often performs again for the Wahoos, is as versatile as she is clever on the sphere.

“We all the time have this factor we are saying to one another: It’s simply hockey,” Madison stated. “She doesn’t care the place she is. Simply play hockey wherever you might be on the sphere. So she’s very versatile, very mature, and really clear in her intentions and what she needs in area hockey.”

As a younger area hockey participant within the Netherlands, Croon stated, she “was positively nothing particular in any respect. I performed for an enormous membership, however not one which performed within the highest leagues. It was simply form of one thing all the women round me did.”

When she arrived in L.A., she discovered her alternatives within the sport restricted. There have been no area hockey golf equipment close to her dwelling in Manhattan Seaside.

“So my mother stated, ‘That is powerful, however why don’t you department out into seashore volleyball, as a result of that’s much more accessible right here by the seashore?’ ” Croon stated. “So after I tried that out, it was actually enjoyable, however I’m positively not tall sufficient or adequate at that sport.”

Finally, Croon’s mother discovered of a area hockey membership, Moorpark, that was a few 90-minute drive from their home. “So she determined to drive me as much as follow,” Croon stated, “and she or he nonetheless says that I simply appeared so comfortable coming off of the sphere. I used to be form of in my ingredient, and so I made a decision to hitch.

“It was a fairly large dedication additionally for my household, having to drive me there three, 4 occasions every week. However my highschool didn’t have area hockey, in order that was positively very completely different. Nobody knew at my faculty what area hockey was. Once I stated I performed area hockey, they have been like, ‘What’s that? I’ve by no means heard of that.’ I used to be form of in disbelief originally, I believe, as a result of it’s such an enormous sport [in Holland].”

With area hockey not an possibility at her highschool in Manhattan Seaside, Mira Costa, Croon started enjoying for a boys group, the Ventura County Pink Devils, within the fall.

“It was actually enjoyable and positively a superb expertise for me,” Croon stated. “It additionally simply strikes at a quicker tempo, so I believe I gained lots from that.”