As an athlete growing up in Texas, I thought I had tried almost every sport there was before deciding on softball. I skipped soccer, of course, because I’ve never been one to lie to myself about my running abilities. It’s just not in the genes.
But when I got to Yale, I realized that Texas public schools leave out quite a few options. Let’s be honest: if you didn’t play football, cheerlead for football, or at least finish practicing your sport before the football game, you really just didn’t understand what Texas high school sports were all about.
Now that I’m here expanding my mind, meeting new people and applying for jobs I never thought I would want, I’ve decided (all but too late) to enlighten myself — and everyone out there — about one of these sports that has previously evaded my understanding, until now.
Until three weeks ago, I had never (gasp) watched a game of field hockey. Travesty, I know.
I had, however, heard random details about the sport from naysayers and what John Song would refer to as “deserters in the sports context.”
I will divulge some of these flashes of brilliance with you now:
Random Detail 1: They blow the whistle a lot, and no one really knows why.
Random Detail 2: They have to run, bent over, for about an hour and a half.
Random Detail 3: They put water on the field, on purpose.
As a veteran Texas athlete with a fairly adept set of skills, these random details really made no sense to me, and fueled my (unspoken) mission to avoid the sport completely.
First of all, if someone stops play, it should be obvious why. There should be an egregious foul by one party or at least some blood drawn. Second, why would you ever choose to play a sport during which you had to a) run consistently and b) do this in a bent over position? (Clearly, I’m still bitter about my lack of innate speed.) Third, anyone who knows what a “rain turtle” is — I know you’re out there — knows that water is fundamentally opposed to outdoor sports. Period.
Now, field hockey fans, stick with me, because three weeks ago I had a conversion.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a Yale women’s field hockey fan.
Although I may never want to personally explore the world of shin-cracking, back-bending, skirt-wearing field hockey players, I have developed a fierce appreciation for our very own Bulldogs team.
Currently, the Yale Field Hockey team is enjoying a step up in the NFHCA Division I Pole because of their tight matches with No. 9 UMass and No. 7 UConn. Yale was only the second team this season to post three goals against Connecticut and allowed only one goal against the talented Massachusetts team. In a conference that contains the likes of powerhouse Princeton, who has won 15 championships in the last 18 years, this advance in the polls may represent their best hope for a national tournament bid.
At this critical point in the season, the field hockey team can use as many football-loving converts as possible to support their home games and propel them in the national standings.
So put your preconceived notions aside and make an effort to embrace the quirky sport that is field hockey. It’s fast, aggressive and strategic, and nothing like what you’d expect. It’s even better.