By Alexa Mackintire, VI Form
The first time I played field hockey was not voluntary at all. I was 8 years old and my school always got out for summer before any of the other schools in my town had. That means that there was about a two-week period when I was left at home with nothing to do. After just a few days, my mom knew she had to get either my brother or me out of the house because she could not deal with the fighting. I was the chosen one.
Every summer my older sister always did a field hockey camp that she loved. So, in that effort to get me out of the house, my mom signed me up against my will. I did not want to go. When she told me to give it a chance, I put up a fight and I told her that ice hockey was my favorite sport and it always will be. Being forced to go to that camp, however, was one of the best things that could have happened to me. At the end of the week of camp, I was hesitant to admit that I loved field hockey because I didn’t want my mom to be right. However, by the time the fall came around, I begged her to sign me up for more field hockey.
This ironic event in my life truly helped shape who I am. As I got older, I began spending my summers on the field, Thanksgivings at tournaments, and endless hours in the airport and in the car. Although I no longer play ice hockey, the training that I got at that sport was a crucial prologue to my success with field hockey. When I went to my first camp that summer, the others in my group were trying to learn the concept of turning the stick without crossing their wrists. Fortunately, this was a skill that I had already acquired due to ice hockey. I love hearing the ball hit the wooden back board or stopping the ball one inch before it is about to go into our goal. I also love that it is team sport. When a mistake is made on the field, it is inspiring to see my teammate win the ball back; it drives me to be better and to support them as well. The feeling I get when I score is exhilarating—the exhilaration is rooted in success. Or, if a ball comes flying at me and I think that I have no shot of stopping it, then the ball lands on my stick with that perfect ‘cluck’ sound: it simply boosts sudden confidence and adrenalin. Overall I think that my want to win and be my best is what drives me as a player. These are the little things that make everything the airports and the car rides worth it.
I have put a lot of time into field hockey, but the value of its impact on my life and who I am offset the time I may have “sacrificed.” If it weren’t for field hockey, I would never have left the United States. Being a part of the junior national team, I have had the opportunity to travel to Holland twice and to Vancouver. My first trip to Holland, freshman year, was an unforgettable experience. It was a ten-day trip and by the end of the trip, I had made friends that I still keep in contact with today.
My first college showcase with my club team took place in Palm Springs, California, which was beautiful. I was only in 5th grade so it was extremely scary. You are probably wondering why my parents agreed to travel to California, on Thanksgiving, so that a fifth grader could go to a college showcase. The only reason my parents agreed to this is because my sister who was in high school at the time was also attending. My club team had five teams and I was understandably on the 5th team. We lost every one of our six games and probable only scored 3 goals. The first game we lost 10- 0. However, I just recently discovered that the team we had lost to 10-0 had a 2012 Olympian on their team. I can truthfully say I had played against an Olympian in fifth grade.
Playing at such a high level with girls from all over the country really helped my game. In field hockey, Pennsylvania and New Jersey breed field hockey players. One of my friends from New Jersey who I had went to Holland with told me I should play for their club team and then there would be a group of us who could play together all year. With little hesitation, I joined their club team in New Jersey. I began spending weekends in the car just to get to practice in New Jersey. When I got to St. Mark’s and we had Saturday classes, our weekend trips turned to day trips. My parents and my friend from Massachusetts would wake up super early on Sunday, drive to New Jersey for a four-hour practice, and then drive back to Massachusetts.
One may think that I am crazy to spend eight hours in a car for a four-hour practice. To me, the time commitment was worth it. The valuable thing about the girls on my club team is that field hockey is all of their favorite sports. Each of them wants to play Division 1 in college and they want to be the best players that they can be. Stepping onto the field and knowing that everyone of my teammates has the same goal drives me. Each one of us wants to win and uphold the prestigious name on the front of our uniforms. Playing with my club team, Jersey Intensity, has helped my game tremendously. One of the players, who was a senior when I was a sophomore, plays on the women’s national team and was just awarded the 2014 distinguished junior player award at the Champion’s challenge. She is one of the best and most humble players I know. She was also an incredible leader. Her leadership is something that I hope to have brought to the SM team.
Being a student athlete at a prep school consumes a lot of time. Monday through Saturday students are consumed with school commitments. For me, most Sundays are spent playing field hockey with my club team. Like most athletes, I have a very competitive mentality. On the field I obviously like to win and in the classroom I like to do my best. Although being a student athlete requires a lot of commitment, I could not imagine it any other way. I found that during field hockey season, I am most productive after school. I know that I must complete my homework because with a busy schedule it would be very easy to fall behind. As my first season as a college student-athlete at Duke approaches, I know that I will be able to continue to maintain a focused mentality that will help me balance both challenges, on and off the field—and that’s because of field hockey. Thank you, Mom, for pushing me to go to that camp when I was 8!
Alexa Mackintire is a VIth Form day student from Southborough, MA. She enjoys sports, hanging with friends, winning the Rebels Game, and going to the beach.