The Oberlin field hockey team has the willpower of the gods, the dedication of saints and a commitment to excellence worthy of several rounds.
Of applause, that is, since the athletes of this austere team made an impressive team pact to not indulge in alcohol during the entire season - not even a sip.
If you consider beer to be a healthy component to every Oberlin week, these players may take on a semblance of immortality.
Even if alcohol doesn't hold such a lofty place in your life - abstaining from this staple of college life altogether can require a loyalty deeper than the bottle.
Without unduly crediting alcohol with too much power of entertainment and social lubrication, I'd like you to imagine an Oberlin existence free of quarter beers Tuesday nights, Monday nights at the Oberlin Inn, keg parties and Professor Beers on Thursday afternoons - plus all those extra drink specials you may treat yourself to when the career as a student becomes too arduous or when the dull moments which Ohio life has to offer simply become intolerable.
Now, pick up stick and start whacking at a ball and you're a third of the way to becoming an Oberlin Field Hockey Player.
It is not ordinary protocol for Oberlin athletes to take a team pledge not to drink.
Though surely coaches discourage and prohibit their players to drink, what goes on behind closed doors goes on, well, behind closed doors.
Never in recent memory has the Oberlin field hockey team, or any other team for that matter, taken it upon themselves to make a team pact not to drink.
The pledge was not instated until after the first game. During pre-season training the team made a decision to be more committed to one another and the sport.
According to players, coach Mindy Manolovich had said that if anyone was caught drinking, they would be kicked off the team.
In the past, Manolovich had always said that there would be no drinking, but she hadn't expressed it in such direct and threatening terms. The first reaction of players was, some said, dropped jaws and an outraged, "what?!"
But it got the team thinking and they had a drawn out and difficult discussion about it long after Mindy had gone home.
Some felt that it seemed that things could go on as they did before; what Manolovich didn't know wouldn't hurt her.
The team left the discussion without coming to any final conclusions.
Then, after the first game an amazing thing happened: they all made a pledge to not drink alcohol during the season.
The most phenomenal thing about their decision is that it was born of their own determination and commitment to one another and the season.
The players expressed pride in their ability to stick it out and make the decision on their own.
It was also mentioned that the decision has made them more committed as a team, and much happier and healthier. No doubt the pact was tempting to break. But players mentioned that they felt more policed by other members of the athletic teams than themselves.
Manolovich said the bonds that came from the decision not to drink helped the team on the field. "They had perspective. They had drive. It built character," she said. "It made them Oberlin College field hockey."
However, many players were reluctant to talk about it worrying that they would be quoted or displayed as working against the team if they admitted that it has been a hard thing to endure.
When asked about their post-season celebration, enthusiastic smiles were abound and the comment, "Well, it won't take much."
However, a Review staff visit to the Oberlin Inn Monday confirmed many players to be back, unscathed by months of sobriety.
Press Box is an opinion column on sports for Review staff members. Sarah Barrows is a staff writer who has made no pacts to abstain from alcohol.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 8; November 8, 1996
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