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10 Year Check In


Shaun Connolly

As I have previously stated, I used to coach high school sports. I coached JV and Varsity girl’s basketball, JV and Varsity baseball as well as JV and Varsity field hockey. Since we are in the thick of Fall District tournaments for high school sports I decided to check in with some of my former field hockey players. As a coach I helped turn around a program that went from not winning a single game to qualifying for districts three times in a short 5 year window. I look back at all of my teams fondly, but the bond I still have with my field hockey team is unmatched. I reached out to three of my former players to see if they look back at field hockey the same way I do. And I’m happy to report we’re all on the same page. Here are excerpts of some wonderful answers from three bright and successful young women, Sabrina Maliqui, Jenaliz Boise, and Calista Veroneau. Answers were edited down for length.

Why did you decide to play field hockey?

Jenaliz: I had never even heard of this sport they told me of, but I heard lots of great things, so I gave it a try.

Sabrina: To make friends!

Calista: I was about to enter 8th grade and my city softball coach was a senior on the team and told me there was an opportunity for 8th graders to play. I convinced a few friends to come to tryouts with me and we all decided to play together. We were excited to play…and even got to leave school a little early every once in a while for an away game.

Do you still play?

J: I played on the club field hockey team at Umass Amherst. I remember [at] tryouts thinking there was no possible way I would make the team, and I remember the email I got stating I made the team! However, I no longer play well because 3 kids later living in a tiny remote town in the state of North Dakota there are no options available. I miss playing immensely, I often speak to my husband that I’d love to someday coach if given the opportunity.

S: I don’t play anymore but I do miss it. Literally, in the past month before this, I was looking into whether there are pick up games in NYC that I could play in. And I have tried to convince my niece to play.

C: I do not, but I miss it so very much.

What do you remember of me as a coach?

J: A hard ass. In the best possible way you were tough on us, didn’t let us get away with the nonsense we gave you. You listened. I remember feeling like you were the first coach who actually heard me out and believed in my full potential. The perfect blend of fun and discipline. Truly you held us to a standard and gave consequence when we didn’t. You coached me during a difficult season in my childhood. It was not easy. But I remember you listened, maybe even heard me cry a few times in your classroom. Truly I had purpose on the field, a feeling I’ll never forget, when I felt like I had none at home.

S: You jumping on the sidelines. Every point made and goal saved mattered like it was the most important, no matter who we were playing against/what team we were on. Tough love, which I thought was atypical of high school girls sports at South.

C: I remember your unwavering support and ability to build confidence in us as players and as people. Win or lose, we always knew you were proud of us. I can still picture you running and jumping up and down the sideline. 

Is there something (an object, memory) you hold onto from your time playing?

J: I still have my varsity letter and pins, my field hockey sticks, the ball given to me with everyone’s signature, and the letter you wrote me for our senior gift. It hangs in my office today at my federal office job. I brought it with me to military boot camp, to my technical training school, hung it in my college dorm room, and now rests in my office. Words of affirmation you wrote to me, affirming that I was good enough. That I was a force to reckon with. That I was a good kid. I resonate so much with those words and I’m sure anyone at my work today would say the same about me, stubborn and assertive yet good at what I do. 

S: I’ve kept my signed senior year ball as one of the posters that were made for all of us. I also have some pictures of us playing.

C: Ironically I just put one of my favorite old field hockey t-shirts in a pile to be donated. It is funny that right after I decided to donate it I got this opportunity to reflect. Maybe this was the closure I needed to feel good about letting it go. That shirt brought back nothing but great memories and even the rush of scoring a game winning goal.

What would you say to a young kid if they said they wanted to play field hockey?

J: -I would say heck yea. Do the damn thing, even when you aren’t sure. I’d tell them to be a self advocate in a field where it may seem like everyone is against you. Do the thing even when your hands shake, say the thing even when your voice shakes. You never know what your potential would be if you stayed in your comfort zone. 

S: I’d say you won’t regret it. It’s ok to be the last one to be finished with the run during warmups.

C: I would tell them to go for it. It builds friendships, fitness, and a sense of community. The only negative thing that comes with this is the knee bruises. I would make sure to tell them that the bruises will fade but the memories and love for the sport will not. 

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