Harley Dewald had been playing field hockey since seventh grade. There wasn’t a lot of pressure for her to be good, it was for fun. In her junior year, her summer vacation took up all of preseason, making it so she missed the tryouts during preseason. She thinks this limited her opportunity for the coaches to see her skill, and that’s why she didn’t make varsity. “Senior year rolled around, I assumed to hear ‘you’re a senior so you’re on varsity,’” she said. “It was more to the tune of ‘you’re not good enough to be on varsity, but you’re a senior so I have to take you, but you wont get any playing time,’ and that was a bit of a throat punch,” Dewald added.
Harley is just one of U-32’s senior athletes who have been impacted by this rule. The rule for the 2018 fall season was that seniors were required to be on varsity. This rule has brought up issues around fairness, including players who were playing on JV who are at a varsity level, lack of commitment from players on the varsity team, and tension on the two teams. If this rule changed, how would it impact the field hockey program?
Two Seniors’ View
Seniors Harley Dewald and Abby Latour both have had different experiences playing field hockey at U-32. Abby says underclassmen who had the skills to be on varsity were not getting the chance because of seniors taking up valuable varsity slots.
“You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Abby said.
Abby Latour in Goal
“If your weakest link is a senior who doesn’t care, then you’re not going to be a strong team,” Abby added.
Harley Dewald was unhappy when she wasn’t getting playing time her senior year, she also was having issues with the team dynamic. She felt like she “wasn’t a part of the team.”
A Coach’s View
Junior Varsity Coach Erin Rose grew up playing at U-32 and has been coaching for several years. Having players defaulted to varsity may limit their opportunities to play at the level they need, and skew the numbers of the JV team as well.
“This creates an imbalance,” she said. “We struggle to recoup that on the backside for the JV team.”
Having a shortage of players on the JV team has caused struggles involving discipline, and making them the best team possible. “Some girls are putting in more effort than others,” said Erin Rose.
“I don’t have a bench, [and] there’s nothing I can do as far as playing time or incentive to be at practice,” Erin added. “It is a challenge for growth and learning, and to build skills as a team.”
An Underclassman View
Sophomore Phoebe Osadchey Brown has been playing field hockey at U32 since 9th grade. Being on JV both years was frustrating for her, especially after hearing from the varsity coach that she was good enough to be on the varsity team, but there weren’t enough spots, so she would have to play down on JV.
Going to practice with only four other girls made it difficult to improve. “The next game, everyone who wasn’t there got to play. There is no incentive to go to practice, or put in any amount of effort,” Phoebe said.
“The whole season I was miserable, the team didn’t care about winning or losing, and was not at the competitive level I was hoping for, because it was JV.”
If this Rule was Changed
Both coaches and players believe this rule could be modified to benefit players’ skill levels, and fairness to the teams.
“I should be given a certain amount of varsity playing time if I am required to be on that team,” says Dewald.
“I felt like I was trying and working hard and it never made a difference. I think seniors should have the choice.”
Erin Rose agrees: “If a senior who’s never played wants to play, and play at a level that is right for them, they should have the opportunity to do that. The students should have that option.”
Phoebe Osadchey Brown thinks the teams would be more fair if the rule was changed as well. “If the school changed this rule, it would make it so the people who put in the most effort would be on the team that is at their level.”
Molli Brown (#1)