A weekend road trip to Vermont or New York can be demanding enough on a student-athlete’s busy schedule. Imagine, then, what it was like for junior mechanical engineering major Marzana Fiedtkou
to miss more than a week of classes recently for a field hockey tournament.
“My professors were really cool about it,” Fiedtkou says. “Most of them would send me work. They were really helpful.”
Of course, this wasn’t just any field hockey tournament. This was the 2014 Central American & Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico. Fiedtkou was one of 16 players representing her native country of Guyana, located next door to Venezuela on the northern coast of South America.
The 5-foot-5 back became the first member of the UMass Lowell field hockey program to represent a national team, another milestone for head coach Shannon Hlebichuk
’s fledgling Division I squad.
“We’re proud of Marzana and her accomplishments,” Hlebichuk says. “Her exposure to competitive international hockey will help continue to elevate her game and of those players around her.”
Fiedtkou is already a veteran of international competition, having played for the Guyana national team in Argentina, Trinidad, Barbados, Puerto Rico and Canada. Her Guyana squad finished sixth out of eight teams at the CAC Games in Mexico, just as it did four years ago.
“Technically we didn’t improve, but it didn’t feel as bad because we played so well,” says Fiedtkou, who is happy to see field hockey growing in popularity in her homeland. “I think our national team is going to go a long way.”
Field hockey is truly a family affair for Fiedtkou, whose mother, Tricia, played on the national team with her until retiring two years ago.
“I’ve been playing together with her for so long that it’s not really a big deal,” says Fiedtkou, who plays alongside her aunt, Tiffany Solomon, on the Guyana national team, which is coached by her second cousin, Philip Fernandes.
Fiedtkou transferred to UMass Lowell from Robert Morris University in the middle of her sophomore year after the Colonials cut their field hockey program. Although the River Hawks finished 6-13 in their second season at the Division I level, Fiedtkou is optimistic about the future.
“We are getting better really quickly,” she says. “Next year we want to make at least the first round of the (America East) conference tournament.”
As for her own future, Fiedtkou plans to put her mechanical engineering degree to use in her hometown of Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city, after graduation.
“I go back every holiday,” says Fiedtkou, whose eyes light up when describing Guyana’s tropical beauty. “Our tributaries are black water. It’s fresh water, but the leaves drop in to the river and dyes the water black. You could drink it. It looks like Coca-Cola. It’s so cool.”