Field hockey rises above disrespect

by Marisa MacDonald, Sports Reporter
photo contributed by Brooke Lieber

Every fall, athletes on the field hockey team have to stomach bouts of disrespect from other students. Despite snide comments that linger in hallways, the field hockey team is training hard to improve this coming season and continue enjoying their sport. 

Captain senior Brooke Lieber said that the team has been steadily improving for years, and their record and game scores serve as proof. She said that the continuous  losses from years past have only fueled their motivation. 

“Last season, we saw a lot of growth, especially against Lincoln-Sudbury. They used to be a really difficult school for us to play, and we actually held our own against them last year,” Lieber said. “It was a real wake up call and forced us to be aware that we, as a program, are getting better.”

Despite the tremendous progress they’ve made, the field hockey team still enters seasons with a major handicap, captain senior Celia Remis said. Unlike their competition, there is no middle school field hockey team to teach beginner athletes how to play before they reach high school. 

This means that rising freshmen are newly introduced to the sport upon entering the program, putting them at a significant disadvantage in skill level. To counteract this, the program has begun to run clinics for middle schoolers to expose them to the sport earlier on.

“Running the clinics, even just twice a year, is super beneficial, and it really encourages kids to give it a try,” Lieber said. “From there, they could possibly go and do a clinic over the summer, or even just consider trying out for the team.”

Field hockey is an internationally played sport with both male and female teams. At South, though, there is only one team, which is co-ed but mostly made up of girls. The lack of male teammates repels potential male teammates from joining, junior Hadley Conroy said. 

“With soccer, for example, there’s a girls team and a boys team. So boys understand what soccer is like,” Conroy said. “With field hockey, it’s just one sport, and while we do have boys on our team, it’s not many. Most of the boys don’t know anything about field hockey. The fact that they don’t understand it and see it as a girls team means they just jump to conclusions and make negative comments.” 

Another factor that could potentially keep male athletes from joining is field hockey’s history of being a “feminine sport,” because it is mainly played by female athletes who wear skirts, Remis said. 

Though the field hockey team trains the same amount and puts as much hard work into their sport as other teams at South, Lieber said that some students have preconceived notions about the program.

“We have the same two hour practices as everyone else,” she said. “A lot of people are just surprised that during our tryouts and everything, we have a time trial,  a long run [and] all of the same stuff that the other teams do.”

Despite the outside scorn, the program remains a close-knit community.     “[The] one thing that field hockey has always prided itself on [is] that everyone just loves to be on the team,” Lieber said. “We always ask to have practice even when it’s pouring rain, which really shows what we’re all about.”

The team has been hard at work all summer, hosting clinics for middle schoolers, Conroy said, so she is looking forward to an even more competitive team this season. 

“I’m really excited to be with the team,” she said. “We have some new freshmen coming and a new coach for the JV team, so the whole program is going to be updated.”