At the Claremont Colleges, club sports are often overlooked in favor of varsity teams and other extracurricular activities, but the 5C Field Hockey Club has been carving out its place in the campus’ sports scene. Despite the lack of attention and the many difficulties that come along with running a student-led team, many dedicated individuals, including some varsity athletes, spend several hours per week practicing or playing with their club teams for the love of the game. Field hockey is no different.
The co-ed Field Hockey Club, also known as the Claremont Serpents, was formed around six years ago because neither Pomona-Pitzer nor Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has field hockey as a varsity sport. This year’s team has fielded athletes from all of the 5Cs except Harvey Mudd College, and three of the players are male. Additionally, two of the field hockey players are on the P-P varsity lacrosse team, and one is on the CMS varsity lacrosse team.
“Currently most of the team is fairly new to the sport. We have a young team with many players who picked it up this year for fun … We lost every game but fought hard and until the end each time,” co-captain Sarah Markowitz PZ ’16 wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “We aren’t the most intense but we have a lot of fun.”
After playing field hockey throughout middle school and high school, Markowitz chose to keep playing in college to have a sport to participate in during the fall semester. Markowitz, who also plays on the P-P lacrosse team in the spring, enjoys the opportunity to meet and play with athletes from across the 5Cs.
“We are a fun team with lots of different personalities which makes it a really fun time. It is also nice getting to know people from the different colleges,” Markowitz wrote.
Markowitz, along with her co-captains Gregory Hoffman CM ’15 and Caroline Hays CM ’16, lead each practice without the guidance of a coach or faculty member and are in charge of all of the team’s administrative affairs, a big difference between club and varsity sports. The lack of a coach can be tough at times for the Serpents; Markowitz wrote that the team “would really benefit from having a figure of higher authority at our games and practices.”
Lauren Penfield PO ’14, who played field hockey in high school as well, enjoys the team for similar reasons but also recognizes the challenges of participating in a club sport.
“I like being on the team because there are a lot of great people and it is a fun sport. It is fun [to] play field hockey and a good workout, but the team is not a huge time commitment like a varsity sport,” Penfield wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “At the same time, it can be difficult to get people to commit to practice and games. Some games we have not had enough players and it has been challenging to play when we are down to a few players. It can be difficult to play big schools, but everyone on the team is a good sport and enjoys playing.”
With a few more players and years of experience, and possibly even the addition of a committed coach, the Serpents will look to further break their way into the Claremont sports scene.
The team’s final game of the season was a home match-up against UCSD last Saturday, Nov. 9. UCSD did not have enough players, so the game was nine versus nine rather than the standard 11 versus 11, and the field was shortened from 100 to 75 yards. The Serpents lost 1-4, but they created several quality scoring opportunities, especially from corners. Joe Hylton CM ’15 scored the team’s only goal in the second half.
The Serpents practice on Monday and Wednesday nights from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and they play against University of California, San Diego (UCSD), University of Southern California, and University of California, Santa Barbara. The Serpents’ season consists of six games, two each against the three schools.
Although the team was unable to win a game this season and often did not have enough players to form a full team, the players enjoyed playing together and have high hopes for the future.