USA Field Hockey NEWS Athlete Spotlight: D...

Athlete Spotlight: Dean Schiller

Nov. 06, 2020, 5 p.m. (ET)

Each athlete that wears the red, white and blue has a unique story to how their careers came to fruition. From the junior level to the senior squad, USA Field Hockey is putting national team athletes under the spotlight to share their journeys.

Sometimes, some sports just aren’t the right “fit” for an individual. For Dean Schiller, all it took to be hooked on field hockey was a little curiosity at a young age, and quickly became recognizable face in the U.S. Men’s Olympic Development Pipeline, now as a member of the U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team.

At the age of 11, Schiller found himself uninterested in soccer and decided to quit. Seeking a new challenge and a new sport, he quickly caught word about boys playing at a big tournament. Turns out it was the National Indoor Tournament, and after quickly catching on, he wanted more playing opportunities and quickly began to hone his skills.

“So, I decided, why not,” recalled Schiller. “Then I practiced for a couple of months and then went to my very first National Indoor Tournament.”

The Virginia native continued to play every chance he could over the next several years, including playing with various clubs in the southern region of the state, including Hawks Premier, Saints and Stick Power. After moving to Alexandria, Va., Schiller found more chances to play as high school began. 

“In high school I primarily played with an adult league with the DC Dragons, which did pickup at the University of Maryland, about a 45 minute drive from my house,” continued Schiller. “It definitely made me feel like this would be a sport that I wouldn’t lose opportunities for after graduating high school.”

Schiller has moved on to study at Maryland and is currently pursuing a degree in kinesiology, with hopes to become a practicing chiropractor. In the meantime he is not currently active with any clubs but is heavily involved with the Terrapins’ field hockey team in practices.

“I’ve been with [the team] throughout college and have gotten super close with all of them,” added Schiller.

He is currently on track to complete his studies in 2023.

“College life has luckily treated me pretty well,” said Schiller. “I came into college with a semester's worth of credits. If it weren’t for that balancing my academics with field hockey would’ve been a lot more difficult.”

Despite the hardships that have been brought on this year due to COVID-19, Schiller has considered himself lucky in remaining healthy and focused in studies. He added that being able to live on campus with friends has contributed heavily to balancing himself academically, athletically and socially.

“Training has been very difficult [with COVID-19], in many cases it was impossible to get onto fields, so the only real option was to go on runs,” said Schiller. “Only recently have I been able to get back onto the field and train. I’m definitely rusty, but more than happy to have the opportunity to get touches on the ball.”

As college life unfolds, he cannot wait to continue his development with the red, white and blue. His first time wearing the uniform was on an international tour to Holland in 2017.

“It was honestly incredible,” said Schiller. “I was super happy to be selected at all, and getting the chance to compete as a representative of the United States was not something I thought was possible for a while. My favorite tour is a toss-up between the Sultan of Johor Cup [in 2017] and the Rohrmax Cup tour [in 2020]. The reason being is that they were both probably the biggest tournaments I’ve ever been a part of. For the Sultan of Johor it was easily the farthest I had traveled, and it was a huge learning experience letting us know just how strong the international competition was. For the Rohrmax Cup it was the first big indoor international tournament I participated in, and being the youngest member on the team made me feel like I had to prove myself. Even though every game was tough, I was happy to go against all of the powerhouses of indoor field hockey.”

Schiller’s passion for the game has been steadily increasing over the past several years. Now entering a new decade he hopes that trend continues as he progresses through the Men’s Olympic Development Pipeline. Along the way he’s gained friendships and relationships around the globe, with field hockey as a universal language.

“The sport has given me some of my closest friends, that I know no matter what happens I can go to them and they will understand me,” continued Schiller. “I know that no matter where I am in the country I always have someone I can consider almost family to be there for me, just as much as I will be there for them. The fact that I had the chance to make such a widespread network of people I trust and love is something I couldn’t have imagined without this sport.”

While the Junior Men’s National Team awaits to return to the pitch once more as a full unit, Schiller also has remained active in volunteer work. He is currently involved with the Leaders’ Club, an initiative through the YMCA which teaches children the values and importance of leadership and how it effects those around them.

“It focuses on getting the kids to be more open and understanding to the world, and the people in it,” said Schiller. “It teaches about the different ways people operate, and how to best maintain your health, and your relationships with others.”
I know that no matter where I am in the country I always have someone I can consider almost family to be there for me, just as much as I will be there for them.

Dean Schiller