STORRS, Conn. – It was six years ago that former UConn field hockey standout Lindsey Leck decided to move to Australia to pursue a professional career in the sport, little did she know how much would change – including her last name.
“With limited playing opportunities in the U.S. after college, I went to Melbourne, Australia for a few months to play and fell in love with my husband, Brad,” said Lindsey Howard. “We’re now married and living in Queensland.”
Upon graduating from UConn in 2009, Howard continued to chase her dream of playing professionally after being named All-Big East First Team as a senior in the 2008 season.
Originally from Clarksburg, N.J., Howard has adapted to changes in all aspect of her life – professionally and personally. Among numerous cultural differences between the U.S. and Australia, one stood out.
“Everything is a lot more laid back. Australians use a lot of slang and shorten most of their words,” said Howard, speaking to the relaxed demeanors of Australian natives.
In terms of field hockey, Howard cited a similarity between American and Australian athletes – a mutual love of the game.
“One of my favorite things about Australia is its love of the sport, which is similar to America. The difference here is that they play from around the age of five until they physically cannot anymore,” said Howard.
Currently a member of the Queensland Scorchers in the Australian Hockey League (AHL), Howard earned a roster spot with the Australian Women’s Indoor Hockey Squad – which is preparing for the 2018 Indoor World Cup.
It was back in May of 2016 that Howard earned the opportunity to play with the Australian Indoor team.
“I had been playing in the local competition for a few years and someone suggested I trial for Queensland,” said Howard. “I must have had a good national tournament two years ago with Queensland and was selected from there for the Australian Indoor Squad.”
Back in January, Howard traveled with the Australian team in a tour of Europe – playing 12 games in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The team went 8-2-2 during that stretch, giving the players a chance to gel on the field.
“The tour was fantastic. Playing at an international level is incredible and we learned a lot while we were there,” said Howard.
She added, “We had no training together before the tour started and some of us had only met the day before our first game…it was a huge accomplishment for us to come together and play like we did.”
Howard started playing the indoor game back in 2003-04, taking part in two to three seasons of it at Allentown High School. Each spring, UConn plays indoor hockey during the winter weather, so Howard participated in that as well.
It wasn’t until five years ago that she started playing indoor again – which according to Howard is a significantly different game than outdoor.
“Indoor has five field players and a goalie, the game is 40 minutes long and the stick is thinner than an outdoor stick,” said Howard. “Indoor is a faster game and generally higher-scoring…it’s played in a gym, the goal is smaller and there are wooden boards that go along the entire sideline that you can pass the ball off of.”
Other rule differences include the weight of the ball, shooting technique and points of contact with the floor. Due to a smaller playing surface, no hitting or backswings are allowed when moving the ball.
Howard continues to make progress as an Australian hockey player, something she didn’t think she would be six years ago.
Since helping the Huskies to NCAA semifinals appearances in 2006 and 2007, Howard has just kept adapting to her surroundings – and with them, her career has taken off in the game she loves.