Nov. 12, 2000
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP)- Rachel Hiskins is an artist who becomes whimsical with a paint brush in her hand.
"I try to incorporate portraiture and abstract. My teacher told me not many people can pull that off," says Hiskins, an art major at Maryland. "But I like to pour my emotions into what I'm painting. It's very physical."
Hiskins employs an identical philosophy when playing field hockey, using a stick as a tool and the playing field as her canvas. The star midfielder will adhere to the playbook when required, but she's at her best when given the ability to improvise.
"Out there you can express yourself in any form," she says. "I like the freedom of creating a play, you can't be afraid to do that."
If Hiskins ultimately turns out to be as successful at painting as she is at field hockey, her portraits should be big sellers. Hiskins, a third-year senior, leads the Terrapins with 22 goals, 18 assists and a dazzling 48 percent shooting percentage.
"Rachel is exceedingly patient and understands the game of field hockey," says Maryland coach Missy Meharg. "She has grown as a hockey player here, physically and mentally, and is one of the most artistic players I've ever seen. Her skills are unmatched."
Led by Hiskins, the Terrapins won their third straight Atlantic Coast Conference title Nov. 5. Maryland, the defending national champion, travels to Norfolk, Va., for the NCAA Semifinals this weekend.
Hiskins grew up in Australia, where she was part of an under-21 team that twice won the national championship. Coming to America was an overwhelming experience, both on and off the field.
As a sophomore with the Terrapins, Hiskins played tentatively and displayed little creativity while scoring only four points in 22 games.
"I just wanted to play my little role. I didn't want to do anything that would make everyone hate me," she recalls. "I don't know, that's just the way I felt about stuff. Then I kind of realized that it would better for me to just put everything out there and be the best player I could be."
Having finally adjusted to the American way of life, Hiskins excelled last year, scoring a school-record 67 points in leading the Terrapins to the NCAA title.
"I started playing with self-confidence," she says. "I finally felt like I fit in."
Should Maryland (19-3) go deep in the playoffs, Hiskins could eclipse her own scoring record. She still has a year of eligibility remaining, which means she has an important decision to make in the near future.
"I'm not sure if want to play another year, or go somewhere else and take another step in my life. I really want to explore my art," she says.
Either way, Hiskins will have another opportunity to put her imagination to work.