Club Field Hockey at UMD is working towards Nationals
By Tara Goldstein
October 23, 2022
Image Credit: UMD Club Field Hockey Team
With a total of 47 club sports to choose from at the University of Maryland, it’s easy to overlook the accomplishments and time that players dedicate to these teams. Most teams practice two to three times a week and compete in many games throughout the season.
The UMD club field hockey team is a perfect example of the success, enjoyment and opportunities that arise from playing a club sport.
One of the biggest things the field hockey team makes sure to emphasize is that anyone is welcome. Regardless of age or skill-level, everyone on the team is always welcoming to students who are looking to join or attend practices.
The practice times vary depending on the semester, but this fall they practice three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.More specific times can be found on the team’s Facebook page. Players are not required to attend all practices and are just encouraged to show up when they can.
“Yeah, it's definitely super welcoming. And then there's no commitment to play. There's no commitment to make every game. You can just come and run around and hit a ball for an hour,” sophomore kinesiology major Erin Chang said about her time on the field hockey team.
This low-level commitment is one of the many amazing things about club sports. While many of the players dedicate a lot of time to practice and games, it really is what you make of it. You can be completely involved in everything or you can attend practice here and there when available.
Joining a club team is a great way to get involved at school, especially during freshman year when you may not know as many people. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and form new friendships.
“I feel like it's a great way to make friends and establish a community that you wouldn't normally interact with,” sophomore animal science major Grace Kelly said.
While Kelly played field hockey in high school, she explained,there were also people who have never even picked up a stick before. The UMD team welcomes both males and females, and no previous field hockey experience is necessary. They also have a few extra sticks specifically for the people showing up to practice to try it out.
Playing club field hockey has also given students an opportunity to be a part of a team and find support in their community.
“I played sports all my life so I was nervous about coming to school and not having that team aspect. Being able to play and to lead others in doing the same has been rewarding,” said Sydney Powell, co-president of the field hockey team.
Powell, a junior finance and marketing major, has been playing on the field hockey team since her freshman year. As co-president she is responsible for leading the team, coordinating games and running practices similarly to how a coach would.
Powell’s freshman year, which would have been the team's 2020 season, didn’t really happen because of the pandemic. They tried to have socially-distanced practices and played some scrimmages, but no games that actually counted. There was also no national competition, which is normally the team’s main goal and focus of the season.
As Covid-19 eased up on campus, the team was thankfully allowed to have a more regular season in 2021. The team only lost twice and were able to qualify for the National Club Championship. The team performed very well in the competition, placing 3rd overall.
This year the team is doing well with a 2-0 record so far and working hard to achieve their goal of making it to Nationals again. The competition is usually held in Virginia Beach and will take place on November 18 and 19 this year. There is a National Championship every season, but teams must qualify for the fall Nationals, while anyone can participate in the spring. In order to qualify, teams must win seven games during their regular season.
Their next big tournament is being held on their home turf on October 15 and 16. The tournament is the annual Hocktoberfest that UMD hosts at the Xfinity Center fields on campus. Every year, 10 field hockey teams from a variety of different schools compete in games over the span of two days. It is a great way to get the wins needed to qualify for Nationals, while also raising money to donate. The recipient of this year's donation is still unknown, according to Powell.
The UMD field hockey team is composed of passionate and dedicated individuals. Visiting their practice is like watching a team of best friends who have known each other for years. It is an incredible community and it is unlikely that their hard-work will end anytime soon.