Growing Up With Field Hockey

When I was growing up, I was very lucky to be able to take part in many extracurricular activities. I learned piano, violin (though that was short lived), and guitar; played softball, soccer, and field hockey; and attended summer camps to learn performing arts and video production. Specifically, my experience playing for 10 years on a field hockey team was one of the most rewarding and beneficial activities I did. If my family had not been financially able to let me play, I think my life would have turned out much differently.

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A game in 2002

 
I was eight when I made the switch from softball to field hockey. Even though my dad was our coach and almost all my friends played on my team, something lured me off the diamond and onto the pitch.
In those days, we played on all-natural-dirt-and-seed-grass. A few years later, once we were used to the new artificial turf fields, passing a ball around on real grass felt frustratingly slow.
My team was made up of a few girls from my school, but was mostly girls I didn’t know from around North Vancouver. That changed quickly as our team grew up through elementary school and into high school together. By grade 8, the team was split pretty evenly between girls from Carson Graham Secondary and Handsworth Secondary.
Our team name was “The Mavericks”, although it took me a few years to even know what a maverick was. We were a good team with a great coach. I always believed that the coach really can make or break a sports team experience. Our coach was encouraging and flexible, and always let us try out or keep any position we liked. He didn’t favour any one player, or set anyone up to be the team star.
From the beginning, I loved playing forward, usually a winger. The most exciting point of the game was getting a shot down the field from a defenceman or a midfielder and chasing after the ball towards the goal, vying with the other team’s defenceman to see who would get there first. The coach and I had formed a type of strategy, one could call it “cherry picking”, because there is no off-side in field hockey. I would stay down the field, pushing the other team’s defence farther away from our midfielders, giving them the chance to play the ball closer to the net. My position didn’t include much running, but the excitement came when I could reach the ball and play it into the net or onto another forward.
I often got teased for being the team cherry picker, but no one could admit it wasn’t working; we had gone almost three years undefeated.
Winning was something I wasn’t used to, and maybe that is why I loved field hockey and our team so much. I played soccer through elementary school, but always was placed on a bad team with a bad coach and barely won more than two games a season.
By high school, I was to be able to play in the spring with my league team and the fall with my school team. The season before high school, I got my first graphite stick. I had been using a wooden stick up until that point, and so was almost everyone on my team, but I was sick of the painful vibrations that would shoot up the stick and into my hand after a hard hit.
I was in love with my new stick; baby blue with hints of neon orange, and not a single scratch, chip, or dent. That lasted about 20 minutes. Though the paint was chipping off with every stroke, I was able to hit harder and longer than I ever had and would always come in first or second during hitting contests (we lined up and hit the ball to see who can send it the farthest).
Field hockey was something I looked forward to every week. I never dreaded the weekly practices or Sunday games, even if it was pouring rain or during a mid-May heat wave. The social aspect was refreshing as I got to see people I didn’t see every day in class and there was a place for every player on the team.
We often ended off the season with a team barbeque with the parents, coaches, and managers that further strengthened the bond between us. Though over the ten years I played on the Mavericks we lost many players and gained many new ones, in our final season during grade 12, we all felt like we had completed the journey together. After our final game, played during a thunder and rain storm in Coquitlam, we all lined up in front of the net to take a team photo. I don’t remember if we won or lost, but I do remember the feeling of accomplishment that was vividly spread across every player’s face.
Mavericks

Thank God the uniforms changed – Mavericks, 2009

 
I was extremely lucky to have been able to play organized sports when I was a kid. Unfortunately, a staggering amount of B.C kids do not have that chance due to economic or social issues. I believe every child deserves the chance to learn and grow through extracurricular activities, whether that is sports, arts, science, or another passion. On November 24th, UBC is lacing up to help local children receive this opportunity. Please check out www.laceup.ca to learn how you can help and become involved.

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