Oct. 16, 2009
By Larry Watts
Whether it's fighting for bathroom time with her six sisters, competing in a game of Frisbee or just playing a simple video game, Meghan Beamesderfer makes one thing perfectly clear -- she hates to lose.
"I am very competitive," the 21-year-old University of Iowa senior says bluntly. "I don't care if it's a simple video game, I don't like losing."
Guitar Hero is her video game of choice. She's more than willing to whip out her two guitars and take on all challengers.
"I'm not at the expert level yet; I usually play at the medium or hard levels, depending on the song," she says. "I'm not going to say I'm the best on my (field hockey) team, but I like to think I can kick their butts. But there are times I get my butt kicked. It can be pretty competitive because all of my teammates are very competitive."
However, Beamesderfer readily admits she may be a little rusty these days. A tri-captain on Iowa's field hockey team, she is keeping quite busy with the current season as well as pursuing her degree in speech and hearing sciences.
According to the Lititz, Pa. native, it's that competitive nature that has made Iowa such a dangerous team by the end of each season. Although the Big Ten regular season title has eluded them during her first three years, they have still managed to leave the field with the Big Ten Tournament championship in each of those seasons. And last year's run took them all the way to the Final Four in Louisville, where they dropped a 2-1 decision to top-ranked Maryland in double overtime.
"We just keep getting better as the season goes along while other teams seem to be happy with what they have accomplished," Beamesderfer says. "We keep working hard on our weaknesses and when it comes time when it really matters, we go at it full force. That's what we've been doing for the past few years and it's been amazing to be part of all this."
The 5-foot-5 blonde rates last year's trip to the Final Four as her greatest experience at Iowa.
"Oh my gosh, I can't even put it into words to describe it," she says. "It was an unreal experience and it was freezing! They watered the field before the game and it turned to ice. We were covered from head to toe with hats and gloves and tried to put on as many layers as possible. People were sliding around all over the place.
"But from the moment we woke up that day and going through the entire experience, it was amazing. We were the underdogs, but it was such a great feeling to know we were one of the four best teams in the United States. No one expected us to do that well."
With graduation hitting the Hawkeyes hard, Beamesderfer now finds herself as one of only three seniors on the roster.
"Honestly, I don't like it (being a senior)," she says with a laugh. "I don't want to graduate. I don't want to go out into the real world. I'm hoping to come back next year and help out in practice. I don't even have to be on the team; I just want to help out."
There is still some time before she will have to face the real world. Beamesderfer, who is also minoring in sign language, will need next fall semester to finish her undergraduate degree and then she will have to attend graduate school before she can begin practicing her trade.
"I would like to work in a hospital dealing with children ranging from birth to teenagers," she says. "I want to work with speech disorders and other disorders like swallowing. If I can do it, I would also like to work with cochlear implants for children and adults."
But right now, she is focused on being a leader for an Iowa field hockey team that is off to a rough 4-7 start to the season.
"It's a young team, but at the same time everyone is very determined and the amount of things we have improved on since the first day of preseason is amazing," she says. "Everyone comes in every day wanting to improve their skills. We don't like losing. We know we have a lot of work to do to reach our goals of last year and it's fun being part of this team."
Beamesderfer has also seen her role on the field take a change this season. An outside back her first three seasons, when she was named Big Ten Freshman of the year and also garnered both first team and second team all-conference honors the following two seasons, she has moved to the upper center back position this year. As a result, she has already tallied 12 points (5 goals, 2 assists) compared to a total of six points (1 goal, 4 assists) in her first three seasons combined.
"I like the idea of being a more risky player and moving up to the offensive circle," she says. "When I was on the outside, I was mainly working the sideline. Now I have more room to create plays and use my skills.'
Beamesderfer has been working on her skills since she first picked up a hockey stick in the first grade. Also a basketball and soccer player, her 12 letters were the most ever earned by a female athlete at Warwick High School.
"For such a long time, soccer was my sport," she says. "But when I got to high school, my focus turned mainly to field hockey."
Beamesderfer is one of six Pennsylvania products, including former high school teammate Becca Spengler, on the Iowa roster. Fellow senior Jess Werley was one of her big rivals in high school.
"We met in the state semifinals (2004) and finals (2005) and we didn't like each other much," Beamesderfer says. "When she found out I was also coming to Iowa, she was really angry. But now we're the best of friends."
A member of the Under-16 U.S. National team in 2004, Beamesderfer was also a two-time Junior Olympian and three-time member of the Futures Elite program. For the past three summers, she has played with the Midwest Regional team in the USA National Futures Tournament.
Beamesderfer figures the three consecutive Big Ten Tournament titles have put a huge target on Iowa this year, but she welcomes the competition.
"I think we're getting everyone's best shot right now and that is only going to force us to play better," she says. "By the end of the year, we'll probably be the underdog again. I like that because that's when we play our best."
And the better the competition, she is always ready to rise to the occasion.