Field hockey veterans embrace JV call-up

Sophia Fang, Staff Writer

Defensive midfielder Amaya Bryant (10) stood on La Jolla High School’s field hockey pitch, nervous and excited for her first varsity game Sept. 9. Only a week before, coach Dana Hemingway had pulled her up from junior varsity to practice with the varsity team.

“I decided to pull her up because of the leadership she has shown on JV, her work ethic, and commitment to our program,” Hemingway said. “We were missing some of our key midfielders that week and lucky for us she was able to step up.”

The move meant adjusting to a faster-paced and more rigorous practice. Although practicing with varsity came with higher expectations, Bryant never shied away from the challenge.

“It was a big change [for me] moving up to varsity, but I was also really excited because it made me feel like I was really improving,” she said. “The energy was higher and since a lot of them were more experienced [than me], they gave me tips for my position, which translated into me playing better.”

This is the first year Bryant has played field hockey, a decision, she says, that she made because of teammate Annabel Ng (12). It was Ng’s passion for field hockey that encouraged Bryant to try out.

“I first knew [Bryant] from hurdles,” Ng said. “Everyday at practice she would work really hard. That’s why I was so excited to have her on the [field hockey] team.”

Bryant’s drive and work ethic carried over to field hockey as well. This was the reason she was moved to varsity mere weeks later and why she continued to improve once she got there.

“When she was pulled up to varsity, she would always come up to me and ask if she could have played better,” Ng said. “Her eagerness to learn and be the best field hockey player is really inspiring.”

Transitioning from hurdles to a team sport like field hockey was a welcome change for Bryant.

“I love the team’s energy,” she said. “Since track was an individual sport, it has been really nice to try a team sport [like field hockey] for the first time. [My teammates] are really fun to be around and I love the sport itself.”

A few weeks ago, Bryant played her first varsity game, against La Jolla High School.

“We were playing against a really good team and I was nervous about how I was gonna perform,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure that I could help my team out as much as possible.”

In the face of this challenge, one of her biggest support systems was her teammates.

“The other teammates on varsity all encouraged me, and it made me feel like my team had my back,”  Bryant said. “Being on the field with my teammates communicating with each other was reassuring. [They] trusted me with the ball and it made me feel like I was on the field for a reason.”

During the second quarter, Bryant successfully blocked her opponent by lowering her stick, stealing the ball, and passing the ball to her teammate.

“I heard my parents and teammates on the sidelines cheer for me and it made me feel really happy to be a part of the team,” she said.

Bryant plans to continue improving at field hockey during practices and games, specifically her defensive skills.

“I want to make sure I can read people and their movements so I can get tackles and move the ball for my team,” Bryant said. “Even though it’s my first year playing, I do enjoy [field hockey] and I’m just focusing on getting as good as I can.”

Coach Hemingway also has high hopes for Bryant’s potential on the field.

“She continues to improve her stick skills and spacing on the field every week,” she said. “[Bryant] is eager to learn, something all coaches want to see in their players. I see a very successful future for [her] and I am looking forward to watching her continue to grow as an athlete.”