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Boys play field hockey in Wellesley first

Photo by Dave Arnold Photography

By Rama K. Ramaswamy

Amidst pandemic-related changes to all fall sports, the Wellesley Raiders field hockey team underwent one of its own: it featured two young men on the typically all-female team, coached by Erin Stickle. 

“Our team did very well this season as everybody came together after quarantine and started playing amazingly well as a team!" said Junior Megan Webb, a Wellesley field hockey team member. "They decreased the players on the field from 11 to 7 due to COVID-19 guidelines, but we adapted really well into the new playing style. Our team has amazing energy this year, especially on the field!” 

“Over the summer quarantine, I forced [my brother] Eddie to go out and play with me and eventually convinced him to join the team when he heard Nico [Nicholas Campbell] is also playing," Megan explained. "We would often see Nico at Sprague and once I lent my stick to him, and after the first shot he took, you could tell he missed the game. Nico brings in really impressive skills from playing field hockey in England. Eddie helped me a lot with my hits since he is really good at them. I’m so happy both the guys decided to play, they have definitely brought a new edge to our game! Coach often plays Eddie and I as the forwards, and I love when she does this, because we both just know what the other is about to do and make really cool plays, in my opinion. Eddie scored such an awesome goal off of one of my assists, one if the coaches named it ‘a Webb goal.'” 

“I played field hockey for a year when I was 7, but didn’t play again until 8th grade," says sophomore Edward Webb. "We then moved to Wellesley and I played soccer in 8th and 9th grades, but then Megan persuaded me to try out for field hockey, as she knew I loved playing back in South Africa. I love being part of our team and the atmosphere on the field when we are playing other teams. The girls welcomed us boys onto the team and we cheer each other. I like playing on the same team as my sister, as I can read her game and we have a special connection and language on the field, which helps us make a strong forward pair and score goals.”

“I'd like to thank [Coach Stickle] for being so welcoming to the idea of boys playing on the team," said junior Nicholas Campbell about his first year in the field hockey program. "After I moved, I originally quit playing hockey because I didn't think a boy would be allowed to play, but if I had known how welcoming the program is, I don't think that I would've quit.” 

“It’s been a strange one, to say the least," he continued about the season. "Not only am I one of only two boys on the team, this is also my first season playing hockey in four years, and we've also got to deal with all the precautions due to COVID-19. However, this season has actually been the most enjoyable of all the seasons of hockey that I've played. Growing up, playing hockey was incredibly serious, so there wasn't as much of a team spirit. I've grown to really enjoy the spirit that this team has.” 

Nicholas has an interesting story about what led him to field hockey. “My dad played hockey as a schoolboy growing up in Zimbabwe, and when he immigrated to the UK, he had both me and my brother playing since we could walk. I'm glad that my dad made me play as a kid, despite me hating it at certain times, because it was my childhood dominated with watching my dad play and playing myself that eventually made me look into the possibility of me playing hockey in the US.”

Nicholas said that he got to watch, and occasionally play with Rhodri Furlong, a current Welsh national, professional field hockey player. Nicholas added, “I always admired how good he was. When he was younger, around 16, I watched him play on the same team that my dad did. I always remembered my dad talking about how Furlong’s older brother was already playing for Wales, and how he was also destined to play for that national team one day.” 

Nicholas hopes that this is a good start. With coaches such as Stickle and teams such as this one, in Wellesley, “maybe this is a step in the right direction to getting more recognition that field hockey is also a male sport, and maybe one day the team could be properly co-ed.”

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