JV Girls Field Hockey team faces a player shortage

The team shares how it is recruiting new members this season despite setbacks


Charlotte Dingli

The Varsity and JV Girls Field Hockey teams take a picture during their practice. Photo by Charlotte Dingli | Used with Permission

Gauri Manoj

Junior and former Varsity field hockey captain Charlotte Dingli says she’s looking forward to moving back to her home country, Australia, for college and continuing to play field hockey there. After moving to America when she was eight, field hockey stood out to her due to its international popularity.

“I actually picked field hockey because it’s a sport that’s available to Australia where many other sports that are offered at MVHS aren’t,” Dingli said. “So there’s a ton of countries worldwide that play it, that means that the community is just that much bigger. If you ever want to move internationally, your sport can move with you.”

Dingli shares that over the past two years, she has valued the team’s supportive community and the memories she has made with her teammates. Although MVHS has a JV and Varsity team, Dingli explains that since both practices occur simultaneously, she enjoys the opportunity to interact with a large group of people across both teams.

The 2020-21 field hockey season began on March 1, and according to Dingli, there are currently 15 girls on the JV team, a smaller number compared to previous years where there were usually over 30 girls. After hearing about the JV team’s decrease in players, Dingli shares that she’s disappointed that she won’t get to share a memorable season with as many people this year. 

“We [have] a lot of returners, which is very good, because a lot of people are committed to the sport,” Dingli said. “But we have very few [new] people signing up… we only had about three new freshmen, which is a big issue especially in three or four years, when they’re expected to lead the team and help teach the new players.”

Due to distance learning, Dingli, along with one of her friends, has been relying on social media to promote the JV field hockey team by advertising on the MVHS Field Hockey Instagram page, @mvfieldhockey_. By scrolling through the followers of the MVHS class office and MVHS official Instagram accounts, Dingli has also tried to message people directly to recruit more players.

Sophomore and JV field hockey player Gwyneth To believes the decrease in players this year is due to the new sports schedule. Usually, field hockey occurs during the first sports season of the school year; however, sports teams were only allowed to begin their official seasons in February this year. With sports like Girls Tennis, Soccer and Swim also beginning recently, To explains that some field hockey players chose to play other sports this season. Additionally, sophomore and JV field hockey player Lauren McMillion finds that there has always been low interest in playing field hockey because she says it lacks popularity in the media. 

“Field hockey is not a very well-known sport, especially at our school,” McMillion said. “When you think of sports, your mind automatically goes to something more popular like basketball or something like that.”

While there are currently enough players to form a team, Dingli, To and McMillion all agree that having more players than necessary would be ideal. Dingli mentions that it is important to keep the number of players consistent in order to have enough people to lead the incoming students in the next few years. Since a typical field hockey game has four 15-minute quarters, having more substitutes ensures that there are enough players on the field for a game in case a player gets tired. 

“I am slightly concerned that the team will grow smaller and we won’t have [substitutes] during gameplay, which would really be tiring on everyone,” To said. “Normally, every quarter we sub, but without [enough] subs, we[‘ll] just be running around on the field for an hour.” 

Despite the lack of subs during games, Varsity and JV field hockey coach Denise Eachus sees some benefits of having a smaller team this year. With fewer players, the current ones will have an opportunity to focus and improve their individual gameplay. She also believes that the new sports schedule will help increase interest for field hockey next year, since there is a shorter break between this spring season and the next fall season.  

“These individual players are going to see more play time, since there are less players on the [team],” Eachus said. “If we have each of the athletes present at all the games and able to play, then that’s going to be something that will potentially help them, because they get more playing time to improve their skills. I think that the excitement about field hockey and the interest level in the current players [will grow]; I am optimistic and hopeful that we get a large turnout again next August.”

Another reason McMillion believes that people might be hesitant to join the team is because of COVID-19 risks. However, McMillion reassures people that the team heavily prioritizes safety. This season, players must wear a mask and remain six feet apart during practices. Dingli adds that the only times they are allowed to be within six feet of each other are during scrimmages and actual games, but other than that, players try to minimize contact with each other.

Although practices have already begun, Dingli shares that it is not too late to join the JV team. She emphasizes that if students are interested in signing up for the team and playing this season, they should send an email to Eachus, [email protected], and then would need to follow certain steps such as having their parents sign a consent form and complete a virtual concussion testing. Since field hockey is a no-cut sport, Dingli encourages people to sign up for the team even if they have no prior experience and stresses that the community is safe and accepting. 

“For field hockey, as long as you try your best and you’re there every day, you basically have a spot on the team,” Dingli said. “That means that if you’re a new athlete and you’re scared because you don’t want to be cut from a sport … if you’re like, ‘I’m not athletic’ or ‘My abilities aren’t good enough,’ the field hockey team won’t judge you for any of that — we’re just there to help you grow and grow your love for the sport.”