Hoffman Recaps Pivotal Win Over China
written by Team Harrow Athlete and USA Field Hockey Women's National Team Ashley Hoffman
Time was clicking down with the score solidly at 3-1 in our favor, we were about to win our first game of the Pro-League and all I felt was relief. Relief that all the hard work we were putting in day in and day out was finally paying off. Relief that we could win a game. Relief that we could make our USA Field Hockey Alums proud. To me it felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders, and the space the weight had vacated quickly filled with a re-ignited fire to win and compete.
The day was extra special for two reasons, three for me. First, before the game the team was called together to meet our USA Field Hockey Foundation. These are amazing men and women who invest in us and believe in what we are about. It was an honor to finally put a face to the people who give us a voice and advocate for us as athletes. Second, USA team Alumni were invited to gather and be recognized at halftime of the game for the hard work and dedication they have shown to the program. These women have paved the way for us to be able to compete like we do, and it was great to have them in the stands. Lastly, my mom was apart of the group that was recognized. At halftime of the game, I heard her name announced and gave her a quiet woohoo before returning to listen to my coach. Overall, I felt lucky and proud that I could go back out on the field and play for so many amazing people that were watching.
The Pro-League has been a journey with its ups and downs. Thankfully everyone has embraced the challenges with a good attitude and a desire to learn. However, everyone on our team is competitive, and losing takes its toll. Growth, I’ve learned, doesn’t come necessarily when you want it to come, or in the form of wins. With each game, despite the outcome, we have gained vital experience that only games can provide to us. We have pushed ourselves past what we believed capable and still until the game against China, couldn’t piece it all together. I am so proud of my team and coaching staff for the resilience we have shown so far this year. It has taken extremely hard work on both ends, and I think sometimes that gets lost when you don’t see it cumulate in a winning record. To finally come away with a win validated what we are capable of, what we all knew was within us this entire time.
So moving forward, we are going to focus on us. We need to stay true to our DNA as a team. To me that means having a high work rate, utilizing our individual talents and personalities, being in the other teams way all the time and never giving up even (and especially) after you make a mistake. The week leading up to the China game, we came back to what it means to wear “USA” and the values we hold when all else fails. Our team on the pitch verses China was a team that worked together, tried things we worked on at practice, and played to our DNA.
Another piece of the puzzle is our coaching staff. A lot of people, even myself at times, don’t realize the amount of time and energy they put into preparing for each and every game. I am talking HOURS of film scouting and creating SWOT’s (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and databases of clips. They also create specific drills each week that translate into game situations we might encounter. They keep us healthy, strong, fast, and happy. The amount of respect I have for them is beyond measure, so it was also a relief to win for them.
The energy coming back on Tuesday after the China game has been renewed. There is a buzz to our practices that make me hopeful for the upcoming games. New Zealand is a great team, and poses significant threats; however, the team that has been training this week is a team I believe, without a doubt, can win another game, and another, and another... hopefully all the way to Tokyo.