Like other Oberlin student-athletes, I was disappointed last year when Oberlin announced that they were canceling fall sports due to the pandemic. I had grown to appreciate everything that playing field hockey here entails—daily practices, weekend games here and elsewhere, bonding as a ‘family.’
As I prepared to go back to Oberlin for this fall semester, I was unsure about what practicing sports would look like in the middle of a pandemic. Fortunately, even though competitions and games are canceled this year, the best things about being part of OCFH (Oberlin College Field Hockey) remain.
First, since field hockey is a contact sport (or at least, a sport that requires close proximity to others), I was curious about how we would conduct practices. Would we be unable to scrimmage or do drills other than passing to one another from a distance? Ultimately, although we have definitely emphasized long-distance passing and individual work, we can still do many of the same drills.
From practicing hits at the goal to full-out scrimmaging, our practices are still as exciting and engaging as ever. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed field hockey until I started playing it again this September! Even though our juniors on the team aren’t here for the fall semester, I’ve enjoyed meeting and getting to know the new first-years. We’ve even been able to have a few socially distanced get-togethers as a team, in lieu of the almost-daily dinners we’d generally have in-season. And this upcoming Friday, we have our annual Halloween practice, where we dress up in costumes to play field hockey! It’s one of my favorite OCFH traditions.
Another aspect of playing field hockey during COVID is the reduced practices and time in general committed to the sport. During a typical season, we would have practice for 2 hours every day, 5 days a week, and then have at least one game during the weekends. We would also often travel for two or three days to away games, which were sometimes pretty far from Oberlin.
Although these away games definitely took up a large amount of time during weekends that I could have spent doing work or hanging out with friends, I found myself really enjoying them. Sitting on a bus for five hours, spending time together in hotels, and competing in games are great for team bonding!
I really do miss this aspect of OCFH—the other day, for example, I felt nostalgic when my phone gave me a ‘This happened one year ago’ alert about our team’s pumpkin-carving contest during a trip. However, there is a silver lining—since we have fewer practices and no away games (or no games at all this year), I have a lot more time for other extracurriculars, like working in the History Design Lab and the Writing Center. I really enjoy these activities in addition to playing field hockey. I hope that I will still be able to do all of these things once Oberlin eventually (hopefully) allows sports to start competing again.
All in all, even though field hockey, like everything at Oberlin, has changed because of the ongoing pandemic, I am still glad that I get to practice and spend time with the team. For me, it continues to be a destresser from everything else that’s going on. I hope that we will eventually be able to compete sometime in the near future—but, for now, I am just excited that we are still able to play as an OCFH family.