Coach Kate on Field Hockey at Talawanda

OXFORD — It seems a bit questionable as to just how popular the Talawanda field hockey team really is. Squished in between football, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and other fall sports, our branding lands within some odd categories with most students.

“The field hockey team has always been a unique team at Talawanda and something special to be a part of,” says team coach Kate Byrd, who has coached the team for nine years. She reports that she wanted to share the experience of field hockey with others, having loved playing the sport herself.

“I think the field hockey team gives girls that may not have otherwise had a sport to play an opportunity to be involved in high school athletics,” she says about the significance of the team. “It teaches discipline and dedication and allows them to be a part of a family at school.”

“We’re figuring it out,” says a fellow freshman teammate on the matter of how the remarkably-numbered freshmen – 13 of us – are faring this season. “There are so many of us that we can lean on each other and our upperclassmen.”

Many of the teams Talawanda competes with during the season come from large Catholic schools who have players that practice and play all throughout the year, which Kate says can be hard to keep up with: “It has become hard to compete with that level of play.”

“It can also be difficult to practice on grass when the majority of games are played on turf,” she says, referring to practices held at the middle school. “Surface makes a huge difference in a field hockey game.”

Of course, Kate has many reasons as to why the team is a wonderful place for its players. On the matter of her favorite things about coaching, she says, “My favorite part is watching the transformation the players go through. When they first start out they are nervous and very unsure of themselves. As the year continues you can see their confidence grow and that is so much fun!”

Sports may not be for everyone, but Talawanda field hockey is welcoming to all levels of ability. We don’t all consider ourselves to be ‘sporty,’ but players find encouragement and camaraderie in practices, team dinners, and during games, both on the field and off.

“The field hockey team is a family and a wonderful place to try something new and gain new friends,” Kate says.

And what advice does she want to give to incoming players? “To go for it, not to be afraid, and to have fun!”

Featured Photo Cred: Justin Beckner