Student-Athlete of the Week: Riley Dolan, Field Hockey


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Student-Athlete of the Week: Riley Dolan, Field Hockey

Meghann Morhardt

This semester has proven to be a time of uncertainty and change for all of us, especially for the student-athletes on campus. Riley Dolan, a senior on the field hockey team, is facing the normal challenges and emotions of being a senior, as well as those that come with the changes due to COVID-19. But she is embracing her situation with determination and a positive outlook. 

After the Big East cancelled fall sports, senior student-athletes were left wondering what the rest of their careers at Villanova would look like. Would they ever get to play one last season? Would they get their senior day? Was last season the end that they didn’t see coming? The answers to these questions are still unknown and it is a waiting game for the time being. 

Dolan has noticed a difference in her experience this semester and says that “it is definitely a big adjustment.” The team would usually get to campus two weeks before the rest of the student body, but with COVID-19 restrictions and an earlier start to the semester, they moved in with everyone else. 

“We had a much quicker transition into classes, rather than having those two weeks just to spend time with the team,” Dolan said.

Despite not having this initial bonding time, the team has still found a way to stay connected and spend time together. Dolan explains that since they all have similar schedules, they are able to “go to practice together, eat dinner together and then everyone does homework in the student-athlete lounges.” 

The team still practices Monday through Friday in the afternoons as they usually would, however, they are unable to travel to their home-field in Conshohocken. They have been splitting time between Higgins Soccer Complex and Saint Mary’s Gym doing both conditioning and skill work. 

While they still have practice, Dolan explains how there is a different feeling amongst the team this year because of all the unknowns surrounding the season and the possibility of a spring season. While Dolan knows that the team “is benefiting from practice, it’s different because it’s all a big waiting game right now.”  

Dolan explained that they “love competition” and “don’t have that to look forward to every Friday and Sunday,” but they are staying focused and motivated knowing that if there is a spring season, they will be prepared and ready to compete. 

Villanova Athletics emphasizes the importance of the student aspect of “student-athlete,” and Dolan is the epitome of that. Being a nursing student as well as a varsity athlete surely comes with its challenges. 

When asked how she manages all of the work on top of her commitments to field hockey she said she is “someone who would rather be really busy than have a lot of free time.” 

Dolan says that planning is key, and she enjoys having a routine and schedule to follow as it helps her be successful. 

One thing that the NCAA has done to try and ease the athletes’ nerves and to make them feel better about possibly losing this season is giving all fall athletes an extra year of eligibility. 

Dolan has “not put much thought into using this eligibility yet,” and is waiting to see if there is a spring season before making her decision.

“With nursing, when you are right out of college, everything is still fresh in your mind, and it is best to get involved right away,” Dolan said. 

She hopes to stay local and work in the Philadelphia area after graduation. Dolan mentioned that if she stays local, she would be interested in “coming back and helping out with the team,” explaining that she is “good friends with the younger girls on the team, and it would be nice to still be around them and the coaching staff.” 

Dolan has had a remarkable career as a Wildcat, starting in all but one game during her three seasons, earning a spot on the Big East All Academic Team all three years, as well as All Big East (Second Team) for her sophomore season. 

If the Big East and the NCAA decide to go forward with having a spring season, there is no doubt that Dolan will finish out her career with the same success that she has shown over the past three years.