Dear USA Field Hockey,
I just wanted to write a letter, that you might consider sharing with other field hockey players and their families.
This is a parent’s perspective of the impact that field hockey has had on my daughter’s life.
The saying, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child,” definitely applies to the field hockey community. For my daughter field hockey has given her the most important things in life, which no money could buy.
Nina lives in a small town in Pennsylvania. When she was eleven she watched her two older sisters and their friends play field hockey. Her oldest sister Michelle was a defender, the other Lauren an offensive player on their middle and high school teams.
But, she wanted the job nobody seemed to like, goalkeeper. She had been playing in goal for soccer since she was six. Watching the older girls in the field hockey goal, for the high school team, she wanted to do that. She wanted all the “cool” stuff to wear. At eleven she got her first set of gear. She was so proud putting it on. Learning to dive and move to stop each oncoming ball. We went to The University of Maryland in August of 2007. We watched the college and National Team play. She met Amy Tran. She wanted to play like her. Dreams began.
She began to play indoor field hockey at a small facility near our home, the winter of 2007. She decided to stop playing elite club soccer, basketball and softball. She was good as a soccer goalie, which helped her become better, as a field hockey goalie. She continued to play field hockey and Spring soccer in school.
She began to play club field hockey with High Styx. She went to her first USA Field Hockey Indoor National tournament in 2008. Her team won the gold medal. At twelve she decided that this was what she wanted to do. Dedicating her time to field hockey, year round, at age 12, loving the game. Sure there were times when she did not want to go to practices, did not want to get up early and travel hours to tournaments, but she stuck with it. She looked forward to seeing her friends and playing.
As the years went by she played varsity two years in middle school and four years in high school. Each year her friend group grew. She started Futures in 2008. She met goalies from all over the state. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, she was chosen to participate in the National Futures Tournaments. It was so exciting for her to meet goalies and players from all over the USA. Her family grew larger.
One day she said, “Am I good enough to play in college?”
My reply was, “If you want to, you can do anything, with belief and commitment.”
Through these years, there were players and coaches who supported her through wins and losses on and off the field. Her High Styx coaches who gave her opportunities to play when times were hard for our family. Friends who gave her hugs and supported her, made her laugh and create memories to last forever.
A thank you, USA Field hockey, players and coaches. You have given her limitless opportunities through field hockey instruction and tournaments. She began to play at a higher level and improve her skills. In 2011, she was selected to the Junior National squad. She traveled to The Training Center in California and eventually to Canada as a member of the Junior National U17 Team in 2012. I remember receiving the photo of her jersey. She was so proud to represent the United States playing field hockey.
Then Nina became, an All State and All American, much to her amazement. Just a girl, from a small town in Pennsylvania. She has never won a county, district or state championship in high school. This was something she never thought possible. Her passion for the game, lead her to being recruited by D1 college coaches.
This past November, was her last field hockey festival with her High Styx team mates. These were some of the same girls, which since 2007,had been practicing and playing together in tournaments all year round. It was her family, our family. Watching them together, I was reminded that these girls, have, as a team, on and off the field, from schools all over Pennsylvania shared a common bond. The love of the game and love for one another.
On a sunny day in Florida, watching these girls, watch the Olympians and college coaches, play a game, to them they were watching their idols. It was so beautiful, this was a priceless moment. They brought home the gold, together.
Field hockey players and their parents know what sacrifice, commitment and the love of the game means. To give everything to the sport you love. The parents, who have been there for every game, getting up early driving to games with their players. The players, who gave up weekends and week nights to practice and play. The injuries, the aches, the tears the laughter these are moments that will last in their minds, forever. The village that raised my child, the village of Field Hockey.
The village has grown for her and continues to grow. As her team recently celebrated their last gold at festival, they are now playing their indoor season. Many are signed to play in college. Yet, those that she played with, for so many years have formed quite a large family. E-mails, Facebook posts. Twitter. They are all part of the special family of field hockey. Some have finished their first college season on play.
Nina’s team will be traveling to Richmond, Virginia in March. Her last Indoor National Tournament. The road has been long. Sacrifices have been many. Commitments have been large. It will be bittersweet. No more weekends together, no more laughs, no more tournaments.
Then the day came, signing day February 6. Many of her High Styx friends and friends from other clubs will be making the commitment to continue to play. Some are playing at D1, D2 or D3 schools. They are continuing their love of the game, another commitment to the game of field hockey.
Nina will be starting to form a new field hockey family. She will be going off to college in the fall of 2013. She will become part of The University of Connecticut field hockey team.
Yes, she was good enough to play in college! She chose this school, because, they made her feel like family. There was something special there.
She said, “It feels like home.”
Each of her field hockey friends and their families will always be family. These girls all over the United States, some will be now be her competition. But after the game, win or lose there will be hugs and laughs.
Now, think of what field hockey means to your children and family? What it means to the young players who are just starting their journey.
Nina plans to give back, by encouraging young girls to find their passion for the game. By showing the younger players that with field hockey your dreams can come true. She wants to promote the sport either through coaching or marketing.
It has given my daughter life lessons, confidence, commitment, decisions, choices, opportunities, integrity, lifelong friendships and most of all love. The Village, to become who she is today, and will become in the future. Thank you, High Styx players, parents, coaches, and USA Field Hockey. To the fields, the courts, the places that have become memories and the future to come, thank you.