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I have had the opportunity to not only play for Coach Kris Sanders in my high school years, but now coach alongside her at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Coach Kris has had the same message for her teams over the years in order to achieve success: always be a student of the game.
Whether you are a freshman or senior, on the field or on the sideline, success comes when you never stop learning and growing in the sport of field hockey. For three soon to be Juniors that lesson came fast and furious. It was clear to Coach Kris and I that Sophomores Shea Henderson, Alex Knight, and Charlotte Scott would have to step up exponentially in the 2017 season after we lost several key seniors and fell behind in league play. They not only rose to the occasion, they became an integral core of our offense and defense. After a tough season, I asked the three of them what it was like to be the young leaders of a high-caliber varsity sport like field hockey and which tools each need to maintain individual and team success:
For Shea Henderson, learning on the fly is a key part in her development as a center forward. “Our 2017 season brought many learning experiences, challenges and also victories. Being some of the younger players on the field allowed these obstacles to further our love and understanding of the sport. We learned fairly quickly what would be asked of us in terms of stepping up to the plate for our team. One thing I admire most about our team is our will to play as hard, always. Coming off the field at half time there’s never talk about throwing in the towel, our team discusses what we can do differently and how we will do it. I think that playing both offense and mid field has allowed me to understand field hockey from two perspectives, at one stance I am watching our defense and understanding what we can do better. At another point of view, I am on defense, understanding the players we are defending. However, I love both positions. There is no better feeling or noise in the world than when the ball slams into the back of the goal. This year we hope to compete in Catholic Leagues and uphold the tradition the girls of the past Sacred Heart field hockey teams have made. I am certain that with the upcoming freshman and the experience we have all gained, our team will continue to grow in knowledge and appreciation for this sport we all love to play.”
For Alex Knight, staying consistent in the midfield and staying mentally tough through the ups and downs is a key to her success. “Being a part of the varsity field hockey team at the Academy of the Sacred Heart is very special. As many other teams know, our team has not been the strongest in the past two years. When I joined the team as a freshman in 2016, our team had just lost multiple seniors who held the team on their shoulders. Despite this loss, the team gained five new freshmen when my class entered high school. Before I knew it, I was playing full varsity games running midfield all season long. This positioning and team atmosphere continued throughout my sophomore season this past year. Our season this year was quite a challenge, and brought out the fight in all of us. Shortly after the season started, everyone realized the hard work we had ahead of us. Although our team only experienced two wins and two ties throughout the whole season, we learned a lot about ourselves and the game. Despite every loss, we never gave up, never once doubted ourselves, and never dropped our heads. We were continuously proud of the fight we had put up. One of the special things about playing on the ASH team is the unique atmosphere. Considering the small size of our team and school, our team bonded immensely and shared many awesome memories together, such a going to the Michigan vs. Michigan State field hockey game. I have many hopes and goals for our upcoming 2018 season. Despite losing more valuable seniors, our team will gain new freshman and new upperclassman as well. I have immense faith that our team will continue to work hard and fight until we reach our goals, while having an enjoyable season. We look forward to the competition this year and we are ready to play with heart.”
Lastly, for Charlotte Scott, helping work with a new goalie to make the defensive line one, cohesive unit will be key in our success in the upcoming season:
“Starting off our 2017 season as sophomores, we had already had a varsity season under our belt which allowed us to come up as leaders for the younger freshman. It was a challenging season due to our small team, but it brought many learning experiences and moments of pure joy. It is interesting to see how a team handles a season full of losses, but I’d say we certainly took those games and turned them into motivation to win the next. I am sad to say we will be losing many hardworking and valuable seniors in this next 2018 season but I am confident we can take this season by storm. Being on the defensive side of our field it will be challenging, yet fun to come up with new ways to play with a new goalie, (since our beloved goalie is a senior) and learn how to work as a new team. A goal of the team this year, as it is every year, is to win Catholic Leagues and I truly believe we will have a comeback this year. I am very hopeful that this season will show the hard work and dedication that the Sacred Heart field hockey team has and I cannot wait to start the next season this summer at camps!”