Field hockey players are still able to practice as long as they are COVID-free. Photos by James McIntosh.
The University of Rhode Island club field hockey team recently held unorthodox tryouts amid the unknown of the upcoming few months.
Due to the safety guidelines for club sports, the players were held to groups of five, with returning athletes mixed in with newcomers. However, according to Sierra Gray, the club president, things went as smoothly as possible given the circumstances.
“Things went exceptionally well, way better than I thought they would,” said Gray. “Everyone was super compliant with all of the rules and everyone wore a mask.”
The club saw 13 students try out for the team, much to their pleasant surprise. All things considered, however, it shouldn’t be that shocking that there was interest given their dominance on the field last year. The girls had an “amazing” season last fall according to Gray, finishing 19th in the nation based on the National Field Hockey Association point system.
Based on this system, which Gray describes as “very complicated,” the Rams were considered a “B-team” nationally. Each game won against opponents would result in a certain amount of points being awarded, and those points would increase against a more difficult opponent, such as one under the “A-team” grouping. The team took advantage of this system, and their top-20 national finish led them to be selected as alternates for the national championship in Virginia Beach.
The team was looking to be moved up into the A-team grouping for this fall season, but as of nowGray said the team does not know where they stand. The National Field Hockey Association hasn’t released much information on the upcoming season yet, due to there still being so much up in the air, including the possibility of a spring season to replace the one being missed out on this fall.
During a typical season, the team would play all over New England, competing in two the three games per weekend. For the last two years, they have also gone down to Maryland to play very tough opponents, including the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina. Gray said these opportunities with the team give them “so much experience” and are a “great bonding experience too.”
In seasons prior to the last couple of years, the team has competed in competitions in New Jersey and Philadelphia. As for the upcoming season, Gray was hoping to schedule a tournament somewhere up north, preferably somewhere like Vermont.
As for now, the team just has to wait and see if they will be able to play this spring. The current plan is to practice twice a week for the rest of the fall, and once a week in the spring.