Taking the Field

Taking+the+Field

By Tori Custer

Representing your school is something most athletes dream about when they reach high school, but for field hockey players it actually was a dream until the school board decided to make field hockey an official high school sport. Tuesday, May 26th was a historic day for these athletes who have been fighting tooth and nail for the opportunity most students don’t think twice about: playing your sport for your high school. While the school board’s decision was much appreciated and celebrated, the players couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with the board’s final decision.

In order for field hockey to be introduced as a high school sport, the school board had to rearrange their system into tiers. Before this change, every sport competing had to be completely funded by the school they played for, so they didn’t have enough leeway to add sports that would fit within the Loudoun County School Board’s budget. Tier one sports, such as football and soccer, still follow the old rules. They are entirely funded by the school they compete for. In addition to this, the Virginia High School League, or VHSL, acknowledge their existence as a sport.

Tier two sports don’t receive all of the benefits of the top tier. They have to raise their own money, and the little funding they do get goes toward students with financial need. The activity fee, which is money that has to be paid in order for a player to participate in a school sport, is $250 compared to the $150 students on tier one teams are expected to pay. Like tier one sports they are recognized as a sport.

Tier three is not acknowledged as a sport by VHSL. They receive zero funding from their school and have to raise all of their own funds.

“We were all prepared to go to the board meeting one week and help support our case, but they decided without us and voted to make it tier two when none of us were there. That’s how we became tier two,” said Vivian Garcia, a junior at Tuscarora High School this year.

As a result of the field hockey team being named a tier two sport for the season, they have to raise their own money in order to pay for things such as referees, fields, equipment, jerseys, and even buses. The cost comes down to $15,000, which they have to raise by the end of October. So far the Tuscarora field hockey team has raised about $10,000 through donations and working bake sales, selling booster cards, doing spirit nights at restaurants, and even cleaning up after the tailgate on September 9th.

While this wasn’t the ideal situation for their team, they agree that the fundraising brought them together and has only made them stronger.

“I feel like we’re all one big family. It’s really fun. I’m going to miss all the seniors when they leave,” said Tuscarora freshmen Charlotte McAfee.

Field hockey becoming a tier two sport might have been a minor setback, but also a huge step in the right direction after fighting for it for so long. Practice makes perfect after all, and the field hockey team practices every day on the main field, which is a huge difference from what they had last year as only a high school club. Even players who play for a team outside of school only practice two to three times a week, so having the extra time on the field means a lot of improvement.

“It’s a lot different because we have more practices and I spend more time with my teammates,” said senior Hannah Meeks.

Last year not having this opportunity might have put them at a disadvantage when compared to other students who have the opportunity to play field hockey in high school. For athletes who want to play in college, high school field hockey is just another way for scouts to see them.

The field hockey team is not done fighting for a tier one spot. They hope to keep moving forward and prove themselves as a group that can’t be knocked down. When asked if the school board’s decision might have turned some players away from the team, Garcia didn’t seem to think of it as a problem.

“In a way it discourages them because they think it’s not that serious, but for our school it just made us all more determined to get fully paid,” said Vivian.

So what does the field hockey team need most right now?

“We would love it if people donated stuff but honestly just to come out and watch our games is a ton of support. We love seeing people in the stand. It’s really heartwarming to see people come out. We only have so many home games,” said Charlotte McAfee.

“We need support at our games and fundraisers!” said Meeks.

If you hope to help the team raise their remaining $5,000, the team receives the money from the gate. The more people, the better!