SPORTS: Girls Sports Empowerment

Field hockey thrives as a second-year program with more female athletes this fall

SCHS has a record number of female athletes, with 131 girls playing a sport this fall. The addition of the girls field hockey team enhanced this as a second-year program.

“With the addition of field hockey and the growth of other traditional female sports, you are seeing more girls playing,” Athletic Director Nelson Gifford said. “What we really want to do is grow and share this experience so other students know that these opportunities are available to them.”

Field hockey goalie, senior Aliya Kabir, who has been on the team since her junior year, is proud of the progress her team has made. She appreciates the environment the team has created and hopes to see it persist for years.

“We have strong players who really are strong pillars for the team,” Kabir said. “We also have freshmen this year, which is really cool as it signifies that next year and the years to come, the team will still be alive.”

As one of the goalies, Kabir values her position and the responsibility that comes with it.

“It is a lot of fun being a goalie,” Kabir said. “You are adored by the team the whole time. It is a special position.”

Senior Mia Bolanos-Teque is also playing her second year on the team and cherishes the bonds.

“The team is a little family,” Bolanos-Teque said. “We are not competitive with each other. Even when we lose, we take pictures and sing on the bus.”

With the new fall season, Gifford and the athletic department strive for inclusivity among athletes. In order to increase attendance for field hockey, the team’s playing times were moved from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to the football field as Gifford believes this enhances their performance.

“After playing at seven o’clock, they were like, ‘The environment is so different versus having to play games at four o’clock.’ People could show up, like friends and parents,” Gifford said. “It seems small, but it matters and makes a difference.”

Kabir appreciates the change in time and environment and believes it excites the team.

“Playing at night makes it more exciting,” Kabir said. “Last year we didn’t play on the football field and it was during the day, so it was hot. The sun was in our eyes, and we played in the back of the school where we practiced. This year, we play on the football field, and we have the lights, so it feels more significant now. It feels like we have more support.”

Gifford also attributes the increased attendance to expanded social media interaction.

“Whether it be volleyball, field hockey or water polo, you really see a lot of virtual interaction and support, and it manifests itself into real-life attendance,” Gifford said. “That part is really cool, and it helps us see the cross-sport support of one another.”

With the winter season approaching, Gifford hopes to see more attendees at all sporting events to increase support among athletes and students.

“I want to find ways to increase attendance across all sports,” Gifford said. “We want to focus on ways to get students to support each other and come out to games, which is something we want to focus on in the winter particularly.”

Bolanos-Teque encourages athletes to try out for the sport they are interested in despite their background.

“Go for it,” Bolanos-Teque said. “I picked up field hockey having no idea what it is. I basically trained myself in the summer to handle this weird stick and this little ball as someone who played eight years of soccer.”

Gifford, too, hopes to see more athletes try out and push themselves out of their comfort zones to discover newfound talents and teammates.

“I have yet to meet someone who regrets playing in high school,” Gifford said. “I have had people tell me they regret not playing. No one said, ‘I regret playing too many sports. I regret having too much fun.’ So, go out, play and give it a shot.”