Alexandra Dineen 25 (center) is one of three field hockey players who hone their skills on a club team during the winter season, so they can be leaders and mentors on the Friends team come fall.
Alexandra Dineen ’25 (center) is one of three field hockey players who hone their skills on a club team during the winter season, so they can be leaders and mentors on the Friends team come fall.
Brayden Mathias

Our Off-Season Play Brings Friends Team Closer [Opinion]

Each winter, two field hockey teammates and I trade our Friends uniforms for club ones – and learn new skills and ways to mentor our FSB teammates in the fall.

All fall, Alexandra, Lily, and I wear black and white Friends School field hockey uniforms on the blazing hot turf. But come winter, we trade them out for navy and white Hymax club uniforms at a crowded, chaotic sports complex in Pennsylvania called Spooky Nook.   

Alexandra Dineen ’25, Lily Roach ‘27, and I all play club field hockey for Hymax. Our club level experience helped the Friends School field hockey team during the fall 2023 season. This fall, our game by game statistics were 4-5 in conference and 1-1 out of conference – a big improvement over last season, when we only won one out of conference game against City, and lost every other game. 

The author plays field hockey on the Friends School turf. (Brayden Mathias)

 “I definitely think it helps!” says Alexandra. “We all play defensive/mildfield, which is really nice to have that connection on the field.” 

Our Friends field hockey coach, Schoen Oakes, agrees with Alexandra that our playing together over the winter helps us on our Friends team. 

“When you have more repetition of anything, whether you’re studying or whether you’re doing a skill on the field, the more repetition, the better you are at it,” Coach Oakes says.

In addition to improving the team with our higher-level play from additional practices and conditioning, Alexandra, Lily and I benefit from playing with a wide variety of players. Coming from many different high schools, the Hymax club players bring different playing styles, stick skills, formations, and field views. 

Oakes says exposure to all these players has helped us a lot.

“It’s also really important to be exposed to different types of players and different levels of players, so that you can learn from them or you can learn how to defend them, or you can learn your own skills better with a higher level caliber of player that you’re against.”

Alexandra says working with these new players – and coaches – have taught her a lot. 

“I’ve learned so much from my indoor and outdoor club,” she says. “All of the coaches are experienced so that’s been very helpful to learn new skills and work with other girls.” 

Having experiences with multiple coaches has also helped the three of us improve our games. Coach Schoen brings her D1 experience to our school field hockey team.

Coach Schoen Oakes says she appreciates the mentoring club team players bring back to Friends. (Brayden Mathias)

Our Hymax club coaches, Michelle Webber and Arsh Singh, coach quite differently. Coach Webber has been a member of the Jamaican National Field Hockey Team, participated in the Junior Pan American Games (Venezuela) and the World Cup Preliminary Qualifier, and represented the USA in the Masters Field Hockey World Cup in Spain. Since she has participated in many professional teams, her coaching style is more focused on techniques and stick skills. Coach Arsh played for the Delhi National team in India, and is a current member of the USA Field Hockey Men’s National Indoor Team. His coaching focuses more on aggression in game play. 

The advanced skills and techniques we learn at our club team not only help us improve individually, which helps the Friends School team. They also help us to mentor and teach other players. Bringing that knowledge back to Friends School this fall season, we were able to teach our teammates different ways of playing, such as new field positioning and stick skills to get past players.

“I feel like I did learn a lot from my club team that helped me on the field and I was able to better understand what the coaches were telling me and the plays we were doing,” says Lily. And because she now has a deeper knowledge of the game, she says she is better able to help our teammates. “I am able to understand what I am doing. So that means I can also understand what others are doing right or wrong. And I feel like being able to understand and help correct people helped us as a team bond and become more in tune with each other.” 

Alexandra says she enjoys this mentoring role.

“Since you and I are also upperclassmen, I think we are role models for the underclassmen and the newer players,” she says. 

Senior members of the Friends field hockey team in action. (Brayden Mathias)

The only drawback to playing on the club level in addition to Friends School field hockey team is that it may be difficult to play at different levels at the same time. 

“As a higher level player, it can be frustrating to play with new or less skilled players,” says Oakes.

And yeah, sometimes I feel that a little bit. But it is worth it, because I understand that they are newer to the game, and I just have to be more patient with them. I also feel like, when I show them patience, they might enjoy field hockey more because they will have a deeper understanding of the game and understand more of what to do in game scenarios.

At the end of a Friends field hockey season, I feel more pride in our team, even if we aren’t at a high playing level like my club team. It’s because I have helped my teammates learn more about field hockey, which has deepened our bond as a team.

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