Louisa Boddy likes her new teammates. The chemistry between them is great, so good that after losing seven starters (one to injury, the rest to graduation), the UConn field hockey team is 13-0 and ranked third in the country.
She likes the field hockey facilities at UConn. They're nothing like athletic facilities in her home country of England, which are rather Spartan.
She liked that, once she joined the team, she got free field hockey gear, shirts and sweats. In England, university players pay for everything, including travel and uniforms.
She likes the media attention, which her teams never got in England; Boddy, a graduate student at UConn from Derbyshire, England, who plays defense and is third in scoring on the team, was in Faces in the Crowd in Sports Illustrated last week.
She also loves that there are four other players from Great Britain playing for the Huskies.
So Boddy, 23, is not too homesick, except for one thing.
"I miss my baked beans," Boddy said. "I love baked beans."
But, she was reminded, we have baked beans here.
"But not proper ones," Boddy protested.
They're horrible, she said to her British teammates nearby. "Aren't they?"
"I found some English ones," she said. "I just had them today. They're epic. You have to try them. They're in a can and they're amazing."
Baked beans (navy beans in tomato sauce) on toast are a breakfast staple in Great Britain. (Boddy also is not keen on all the preservatives in U.S. bread, either, and prefers English bread.) But other than that, she is doing just fine.
And the Huskies are happy to have her and her British counterparts.
"It's been an ongoing trend in our sport, the past 20 years — the top teams have international players," UConn coach Nancy Stevens said. "We have had two or three a year. Then we'd get into the NCAA tournament and [opponents] would have six starting international players. It's had us re-evaluate our recruiting."
Paul Caddy, UConn's associate head coach, is British and has many connections in England, which won the bronze medal in field hockey in the Olympics this year.
Of the current group, junior goalkeeper Sarah Mansfield came first, two years ago. She went to Millfield, a prep school in Caddy's hometown of Somerset. Mansfield has given up nine goals in 12 games and has five shutouts. She was an All-American last year and the Big East goalkeeper of the year.
"Part of [UConn's success] has been that Sarah Mansfield has been outstanding in goal for us," Stevens said. "It gives you an opportunity to win the close games.
"She's really one of the best athletes on the team. She could play on the field for us."
Mansfield was in her gap year after graduating high school, working, when Caddy emailed her and asked her if she was interested in UConn.
"It was a great opportunity," Mansfield said. "I didn't really know that much about it. I knew that the basketball was pretty good.