By Nancy Wible
Many kids at Wayne Elementary play soccer in the fall, but did you know that lots of girls play field hockey in southeastern Pennsylvania? On my field hockey team, we play against teams with girls from other schools in a recreational field hockey league. My FastFlicks team is named Crush and a lot of girls from WES are on it.
The field hockey field and positions look a lot like soccer. The objective of the game is the same as soccer too: move the ball up the field and shoot it into a goal. Unlike in soccer, though, field hockey players move the ball up the field by hitting it with a stick, not their feet. A field hockey stick looks like a cane, except one side is rounded and the other side is flat. The ball is round, small, and hard, and players dribble, pass, or shoot it with their sticks. Players can only use the flat side to hit the ball; if they hit it with the curved side, they commit a penalty and the other team gets the ball. Because players can only hit the ball with the flat side of the stick, it helps to go to the right ride of the field or even just on the side. This helps because the right is your strong side. For FastFlicks we play “Nine a side,” which means that there are nine people on each team playing on the field: three forwards that try to score, three midfielders that play offense and defense, and three defenders whose job is to stop the other team from scoring.
One of the best chances to score in field hockey comes on penalty corners. Corners will appear when you are on defense and the ball touches your foot in the circle or you hit the ball past the end line on purpose. The end line is the line that the goal is on, if you hit the ball past the end line it becomes out of bounds, and the circle is a half-circle that surrounds the goal. On an offensive corner, five players set up to score, the inserter passes the ball to a teammate who is standing on the line of the circle. That person who receives the ball either shoots or passes it to another teammate around the circle. Those other players sprint to get open for pass or rush the goal to get a rebound. On defense, four players defend the goal on a corner. Everyone on a defensive corner stands in the goal to start, but they each have a different role to play after the offense inserts the ball: the fly, trail, and post. The fly runs to defend the player. The two trails run to the sides of the fly to intercept passes, and the post stands near the goal line to stop the shot (hopefully).
In the FastFlicks League, we play games at General Wayne Elementary School in Malvern each Saturday on the grass. Every week we play a team. There are nine teams in our division, and each week we play a different team. At games you’ll spot refs, parents, and coaches along with us the, players. I play in the 4th grade division. Only 4th graders play in this division, but next year when I’m in 5th grade I will play with 6th graders too. I’ll also play on turf fields at Eastern University.
Field Hockey recreation leagues are all around us because the National Headquarters of Field Hockey is at Spooky Nook in Lancaster, which is only two hours away. The U.S.A. women’s field hockey team can be spotted playing there. I watched them play a game against Belgium, and the US women won in a shootout. At that game, I got to watch a stroke, which is like a penalty kick in soccer except the player must push the ball toward the goal with her stick. I got a T-shirt and even got on TV at that game.
College games are also super fun to watch. Earlier this month I went to College Park, Maryland, to watch the Iowa Hawkeyes play the Maryland Terrapins. Both teams had a lot of corners, but Maryland won 3-0. Another game I went to was UConn at Villanova. There are lots of college teams in this area that you could go to watch, too, from Villanova and Saint Joe’s on the main line to Drexel, Penn, Temple, and LaSalle in the city. The top 10 rankings are: 1 North Carolina, 2 Maryland, 3 UConn, 4 Duke, 5 Virginia, 6 Louisville 7 Virginia, 8 Iowa, 8 Princeton, 10 Syracuse as of October 21st, 2019. You can check to see the rankings and see other information on this website: