Editor takes on Wilson fhockey practice

Alex Cirino

Before I took on a Wilson field hockey practice, my knowledge of the sport was limited to the parts of the stick used and the point system. Growing up mainly following male-dominated sports, I wanted to take some time to learn more about field hockey—and I thought there was no better way to do so than to participate in a practice. With experience playing various different sports, including ice hockey, I figured I wouldn’t embarrass myself too badly.

I was immediately welcomed by head coach Sarah Whitener. She had just finished assembling two full-sized field hockey nets and was eager to get the practice started. She handed me a stick and a ball to get accustomed to the technique, along with constantly reminding me that I could only use one side of the stick. Before I knew it, the warm-up began and my first field hockey experience had kicked off.

The opening drill was a classic scrimmage—with a slight twist. Coach Whitener was not allowing anyone to pass the ball forwards. It was a challenge for everyone out there, as Whitener ended up stopping play after repeated violations of her out-of-the-ordinary rules. They were tough to follow, especially in a more condensed space than in a real game. Even though I was on the losing end of the scrimmage, and despite junior Anna Gustafson’s rather impressive air dribbles, I caught everyone’s eye when I performed a challenging spin dodge, the act of turning away from pressure in a 360-degree turn. I would say that was one of my highlights of the day. 

The next two drills were the classic dribbling, passing, and shooting drills. I didn’t mind them at all because, after the scrimmage, it was clear that I needed to work on my fundamental field hockey skills. The main challenge I faced was keeping the ball on the flat side of the stick. Instead of maneuvering past my opponents with nifty dekes like I’m so used to in ice hockey, I had to find other ways to keep possession. But my dribbling was adequate and my shots, while rather powerful and on target, were never going to get passed junior goalie Anna Arnsberger. 

We ended with another scrimmage, but this time with no restrictions of any kind and fewer players per team. It allowed us to have more space to move around and more time to find passes. And since the field boundaries were also a bit smaller, I found it slightly easier to find space to shoot closer to the goal. Coach Whitener organized a mini three team winner-stays-on style tournament. Although my team only played two games, winning one and losing the other, we were the last team standing, making us the technical winners.

What stood out the most about the field hockey team is the close bonds between the players. No matter their record or any negative on-field circumstances, they still show up to practice every day knowing that there’s a supportive team behind them.

Overall, I had a positive experience playing field hockey. I was welcomed right from the start and proved I wasn’t half-bad at the game.