Many, many, many, many (well, you get the point) years ago, I played field hockey. It was a new sport to me and all of my teammates in high school. At the time, my high school was a new one. In fact, my senior class would be the first four-year graduating class of the school. That was back in 1980.
I discovered field hockey in my Freshman year. I had just been cut from the junior varsity softball team and I was bummed…and relieved at the same time. I mean, the only reason I tried out and played at all was because my best friend and several other friends played. I knew I wasn’t good at it. I hated it when it was my turn at bat. I had visions of being hit by a wild pitch every time I stepped up to the plate. On defense, I always chose the outfield. I hoped and prayed the ball would never come near me. And when it did? I’d start praying even harder and asking myself, what the heck am I doing here?
So, the cut was a blessing in disguise. As I walked away from the softball field and headed to the upper field, I spied several girls holding sticks and balls in the distance. I was curious. I stopped to watch a little and the coach approached me. She asked if I wanted to try it out. Since I had nothing else to do, I said, “Sure.” She showed me a few basics and I was off and running. Literally. She said I was a natural. I didn’t believe her. I thought she was just saying that to be encouraging…but it did motivate me.
I had so much fun playing field hockey that year. And the very next year, I made the all-CIF sectional First Team (all stars). It was an honorary thing and an awesome feeling. I learned a lot from being part of a team, competing together, striving to be the best. Losing games motivated us; winning games fueled us. Eventually, we won the CIF section title in my senior year – the biggest championship for our sport back then. Playing field hockey was such a major part of my high school life. It helped define my place as an athlete during those uncertain young adult years. When I graduated and hung up my stick and cleats, field hockey would be a fond memory from my high school years.
But then there was college. My high school coach played at San Diego State University. She knew that many schools offered athletic scholarships. She made phone calls and made sure coaches came to watch our team play, including the Stanford coach. Coach Barb had already given out her scholarships for the coming Freshman year but she encouraged me to walk on and she would see what she could do. Guess field hockey wasn’t over for me as I’d originally thought.
Playing a sport in college is hard, particularly without an athletic scholarship. Balancing time between studies, classes, practices, and traveling for games was a struggle for me. I worked part-time as part of my financial aid package and I was ready to quit field hockey in my sophomore year, though I’d made the Varsity team that year. I was very sad but it would be a relief. I convinced myself I was done playing. I could focus all of my time on studying. Getting my degree was the reason I was there anyway. But my coach didn’t agree. She offered me a scholarship for my final two years there. I wouldn’t have to work anymore. Oh. Hmm. Guess I wasn’t done playing just yet.
By the time my senior year rolled around, I was definitely done. I was tired. During the last game of my college career, I was hobbling on the field. I’d hurt my back and developed shin splints in the previous game. The trainer could find nothing wrong with my back but we treated it, along with my shin splints. I was not 100% by the next and final game. I was in pain. Mentally and physically, I was done. I never wanted to pick up another field hockey stick again. And I didn’t…until now. Or more accurately, last December…28 years later.
Last December, I got it into my head that I’d like to show my daughters the sport that I used to play. They’re 9 years old and have been playing soccer, tennis, volleyball, street hockey (in school), and lots of other sports. My daughters have been curious about “Mommy’s sport.” I haven’t been physically active since they were born largely because of the pain I developed from hip dysplasia. Most of the learning and playing of sports has been with my husband. Two years ago, I had both of my hips replaced. Last year, I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee. Finally, I’m ready to get back to my once athletic self…and show my girls a few things.
They thought it was fun but they needed more instruction to really get into it…and probably just as importantly, friends that played. I found a couple of local field hockey camps this past summer. One daughter was able to attend both. The other had time for only one. They LOVED it! They met several other girls that play and/or were learning to play. They were the youngest. Most were middle school and high school ages. But since my girls are tall for their age, they weren’t small at all. And their natural athleticism kept them right in the mix with the bigger, older kids.
Once again, field hockey has become a part of my life. I admit that the reason I’m engaging in it again is mainly because of my daughters. While one has found that soccer is her sport (she plays competitive soccer and is quite good at it), the other has announced that she believes that field hockey just may be her sport. [I should add that AL has confided in me in the past, that she was feeling a bit down because she felt like everyone in our family had a sport (e.g., Pappa has tennis and basketball, her sister has soccer, I had field hockey and tennis) and she had yet to figure out her own sport that she loved to play…and was really good at.] And since she has decided that field hockey is that sport, I will do everything I can to make sure she has a chance to play. At 9 years old, it’s not as easy as signing her up for a class through the local town recreational organizations.
So I find myself volunteering to see if I can get field hockey into my daughters’ school’s SPARK P.E. program. I’m working with a local high school coach to see if I can obtain field hockey sticks for the program. I’m inviting her friends to try out field hockey when they can at any practices that come up. I got both of my girls memberships in the USA Field Hockey Association, and signed them up for the new Fall field hockey season spearheaded by the local Stryker field hockey club (for which they are members of as well). And at some point, I’m going to have to bone up on the rules of the game since I played back in the 80’s.
I have to laugh at myself, though. I truly thought that field hockey was a thing of my past. Fondly remembered but over and done. And…I guess not.
Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog by Mommytwingirls.