With a roster that features both an abundance of veterans and a historically large class of preps, this year’s varsity team is focused on building and strengthening connections within the team.
“The important thing is that we’re together,” said head coach Kait Leonard. “We’re trying to make it as memorable and as positive as possible.”
One way that the team has tried to adapt to this most unusual season is place less emphasis on drills in practice and shift the focus to more intramural competition, with the hope that the games will highlight more of the fun in field hockey.
“We’re trying to foster a genuine love for the sport,” said Leonard, adding that the aim is to mimic as much of actual gameplay as is possible under current conditions.
This year’s team features a veteran group that had an opportunity to mature and grow last year. Of the 14 upper mids and seniors on the team, all but two are returning players, and five are four-year players.
Leonard said that the coaches were working especially closely with the seniors to make this season a rewarding experience for them. This year, the team has appointed all seven to a captain’s council to help guide and direct the team. They have played an integral role in guiding the other players starting from the first days of tryouts, she said.
On the other end of the spectrum, the team has also seen an unprecedented influx of new talent, with a record-high six preps on the team. Leonard acknowledged that many of them are new to field hockey but gave them all kudos for their enthusiasm.
“You can see the enjoyment they have in getting to know a sport that is not something that is organic to them, but they’re picking it up quickly,” she said.
Ultimately the goal is to create a season of special memories on the field, no matter the situation. “My goals for the team since I learned of the unusual season have always been to have fun and make the team a constant in a time of uncertainty,” said Kate Donohue ’21. “I want Downing to be a place where nothing matters except being together.”