By Izzy Sampere
To say the Byram Hills Varsity Field Hockey team had a season full of obstacles and challenges is a tremendously large understatement. Due to the immense impact of COVID-19, the way that our team practiced and bonded was changed greatly, increasing the struggles of an already small 14 girl roster. For reference, the Girl’s Varsity Soccer Team has 27 players, and the Boys Varsity Soccer Team has 26. As if things couldn’t get worse, luck wasn’t in our favor, as star midfielder and freshman Kiley Blackmar broke her thumb at our 3rd game versus Briarcliff which left the team with only 13 girls remaining. As a result, the majority of games were played with one to zero subs, or even played with players down, such as the games versus North Salem and Somers.
Although this posed a large inconvenience during games, I believe that next year the advantages will be stark and clear, as every player has had so much experience on the field. Not to mention, the small player turnout has only strengthened the team’s chemistry and bonds. Sophomore Piper Siegel, a first-time field hockey player, adds that “Even though there’s not a lot of us, I think it only shows that every single person is an integral component, as we all contribute to help each other, which has definitely made this season so great.” I can second this, as I also joined the field hockey team this year. Regardless of my lack of experience playing field hockey, everyone made me feel overwhelmingly welcome and essential to the team’s success, which warranted the positive experience. During practices, returning players made a conscious effort to help those with minimal experience, taking time out of their potential gain to aid those who needed it more. I know that once the season is over, the team’s friendships and bonds will only continue to get stronger!
Kiley Blackmar only had the ability to sit on the sidelines, counting scores, and being our cheerleader, but she was still able to observe the growth throughout the season. She explains, “Although the scoreboard didn’t always match up to our desired point value, every girl displayed determination and a willingness to improve.” This season, the most evident improvements in our game were effective passing and corner plays. None of this could have been possible without the new coach, Mrs. Roemer.
Mrs. Roemer, who teaches multiple math classes at the high school, has had years of experience coaching modified teams and Futures Field Hockey (a development program for high schoolers across the county). She is a talented player and was on the State University of New York New Paltz team playing Division III. Her love for the sport dates back to her teenage years, where she played in high school at Fox Lane. When asked about the biggest takeaways this year, Coach responded “The environment was completely different from what the team was used to from the past.” However, she argues that this change was just a product of circumstances, and is overall “really proud of how the team rose to the occasion.” We thank her for her dedication and for making it such a great season!
The team would not be complete without our two Captains; Lizzie Manowitz and Tessa Schwartz. Lizzie Manowitz is a talented right midfielder and the glue to our forward and defense. She has been playing field hockey for two years and is an exceptional athlete that is integral to our team. Upon speaking to Lizzie individually about having a large percentage of new underclassmen, she expressed that “it was really amazing to see the new players step up on the field and take on important roles too.” She continued and told me how ” [She’s] so grateful to have spent [her] senior season playing beside them.” Tessa Schwartz, a killer 2nd year left midfielder, took on many positions as well to accommodate for the lack of players. She conveyed great flexibility to our team and is known for her specialized skill in passing. Tessa discussed that her favorite memory this season was the last game. She acknowledged the struggle of “play[ing] with two players down on grass turf against the second-best team in our league.” However, she argues that the experience was made enjoyable by our team’s ability to “have so much fun, mak[ing] the best out of our situation.”
After almost two months of the Field Hockey experience at Byram Hills, I am grateful to conclude that through my time playing on this team I have gained an understanding of the true meaning of resilience. Resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”(Oxford Language Dictionary 2020). Our difficulties of underrepresentation, an active pandemic, and a team of new players, were most outweighed by the team’s ability to be strong, and remain resilient. This could not have been made possible without our positive outlook and emphasis on having a good time. Throughout practice in the rain and games lost by a wide margin, a smile could always be found on our players. That’s what made it all worth it!