The experience and lessons learned were far more important than the score sheet, says the coach of the EDSS girls’ field hockey team, which got immersed in the sport last weekend during a tournament hosted by St. John’s Kilmarnock School in Breslau.“It was a really good thing. We didn’t do as well, but we gave these girls a ton of opportunities to play and get lots of game-time, so everybody improved over the course of the day,” said Laurie Murray.
As is usual for this annual tournament, the rookies tried their hand at the game, some for the first time.
“We didn’t have our whole team there, so we had a lot of rookie girls. We had 14 girls out of our 22, and the majority of them were first-year players. Now, we didn’t score and we tied the game and lost the rest, but it was a great learning opportunity for these young girls to understand the game and figure out positioning. That’ll help later on.”
One of three coaches for the team, Murray is helping the young recruits shape up to meet the demands of a competitive league, but the process will take time as the girls continue to learn the intricacies of field hockey. Most years, at least one team from the league makes it to the middle round of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations tournament (OFSAA), against higher-seeded teams. Last year EDSS came in 11 out of 16 OFSAA teams.
After losing the first regular season game 3-0 against Bluevale Collegiate September 12, Elmira managed to tie a game with Huron Heights during the tournament. The squad lost again, however, in several matches that followed that day.
But, a loss on the field is a gain in the long run, Murray said.
“This tournament is awesome because kids haven’t played field hockey all year. The older girls end up having to work and stuff so I usually end up bringing … the younger ones to give them experience. It’s a great way for the girls to learn the game without a lot of pressure because our league is pretty intense.”
Having parents and supporters come out to an early tournament is always a plus, she added, as it gives both new players and their families a feel for the rules of the game.
“Many of these players have never played field hockey before. We’re just going to work on getting their skills up; they are still learning the game. Hopefully by the end of the season they’ll be doing quite well.”
So far the girls are working on improving general skills and coming together as a team. A season-opener and first tournament out of the way, the girls venture forward into a series of doubleheaders every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the regular season. After Sunday’s performance, Murray is optimistic about the season:
“The girls improved so much over the day. They did learn a lot about the game, the calls that sort of stuff. It was definitely not a waste of time it was a great learning experience for everybody.”