The University of Maine field hockey club has been an established team for as long as the current members have been here, but this year are playing more games than ever before as they joined the National Field Hockey League. This semester, they had seven games all around the New England area. This means more traveling and time for team bonding.
“Going everywhere else it’s a lot of bonding,” second-year defender Maddie O’Kourke said. “It’s a little bit more relaxed feeling. It’s more getting to know each other more on a personal level. After my first road trip freshmen year, I felt so much more comfortable with the team.”
Going on road trips and playing field hockey aren’t the only occasions that the team spends time together.
“We all hang out all the time, on and off the field. We’ve met our roommates here. Everyone is so close knit like we’ll always be in the library together,” fourth-year forward and vice president Victoria Girardin said.
Girardin has been playing field hockey since the seventh grade with the current president of the Field Hockey Club, Kristina Morton. A new challenge they faced with this team was that it is student led, so they are coaching their peers.
“We are student led which is something we have had to take on, coming up with drills but also being a full time student,” Girardin said. “Also coaching your peers while also being friends with them.”
“It’s hard because we are involved in the drills, we aren’t just standing on the sides,” Morton said.
This is an adjustment for all members of the team, not just those taking on the coaching roles.
“I think you just have to make sure you are focusing on what you need to be doing. For example, during games we have to sub each other out so you need to be knowing what’s happening and recognizing if your teammate is getting tired and needs to sub,” second-year defender Bridget Re said.
As a freshman especially, this is a transition to make, though not necessarily a bad one.
“Everyone knows what we need to work on but you get to communicate about it together. It’s a lot of self-reflection that you don’t always get when you have a coach,” first-year midfielder Alicia Gaiero said.
All members of the team contribute ideas about drills to do at practice as they all have the common goal of succeeding as a team. Although the team comes from all different levels of experience they all come together through their mutual love of the sport to play together.
“It’s a fun balance of friendship and social, but we are all here to play field hockey,” Re said.
Gaiero also recognized this right from the start. She had originally planned on going to another school to play division 1 field hockey, but when she decided to stay in Maine for college, she soon after found her place on the club team.
“Everyone isn’t here because they want to get recruited or something, they are here because they really love the game,” Gaiero said. “Everyone still cares whats going on and everyone gets to offer input.”
It was their mutual love for the sport that brought them together originally, but the more they play together the closer they get.
“I played field hockey and lacrosse in high school, so I went to practices for both, but I really fell in love with this group of girls so I decided to play field hockey,” O’Kourke said.