By TJ Millman
With the summer sun beating down and not even a slight breeze for relief, sounds of sticks smacking together and the deep, gasping breaths of athletes rang forth. With just over two weeks until their first game, the Milford Field Hockey Team is putting in maximum effort to try and follow up an impressive 13-2 regular season from last year. The hard work and hustle is a testament to the players, but it also is what Milford Head Coach Andrea Fleming expects from her players.
“I hold my players to very high standards. I am looking for hustle, leadership, and a willingness to learn. I expect my players to be able to take criticism in a positive manner and be able to learn from anything that we tell them. They need to be able to push themselves, as well as push their teammates to be their very best. These are lessons that can impact these girls not just as athletes, but as people as well,” Fleming said.
For the past four years, names like Melvin, Shockley, and Bowe have been at the forefront of Milford Hockey. This year, Fleming is excited for her younger players to step into the light and out from the shadow of the players above them.
“We had those eight, great seniors that had been playing for the last few years, and now it’s time for these other girls to get their shot. I don’t consider this to be rebuilding because a lot of these girls have been a part of this team for a few years now, but I’m excited to see a new team come together and be the new faces of Milford Hockey,” Fleming said.
One thing that this year’s team lacks is varsity experience, but Fleming sees a lot of potential in her players. She noted that even though a good portion of her players have very little varsity time under their belts, those same players have been putting in work year round to be ready for this moment. She has seen her athletes in the weight room, playing on travel teams, and even playing indoor hockey during the winter.
Losing eight seniors can lead to a lack of leadership, but the culture of Milford Field Hockey prevents this from being an issue. Senior Leah Barnett said that everyone on the team has a voice, and that anyone is capable of being a leader on their team.
“Coach Fleming always emphasizes that you can be a leader in many ways and at any grade. As seniors, we are the best to lead by example because we know what the coaches expect from us, and we know what it takes in order to be successful. We all try to perform our best and encourage everyone to show the younger girls what it really means to be a Milford Field Hockey Player,” Barnett said.
Barnett and her coach both offered the same answer when asked about this year’s goal. They both have a goal set of reaching the state tournament and making some noise when they get there. The Bucs start their season at home on Friday, September 8 against Appoquinimink High School at 4PM.
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