Field hockey alumni reunite to give a boost to Greenport program

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Greenport field hockey alumni Susan Jaworecki Pontino (left) and KatieLieblein Sepenoski show off scrapbook of their league winning team in the 1980s.

Memories of the joy they found playing field hockey when they were in high school prompted about 30 alumni to return to Greenport Saturday to give a shot in the arm to a program they believe is waning.

The alumni players each contributed $25 that was used to purchase their shirts and pay the referee, with the balance to be donated to Greenport School for its field hockey program. The players also sold extra shirts and conducted a raffle to raise more money for the school’s field hockey team.

Two teams of alumni, divided by graduation year — even year graduates on one team and odd year grads on the other — competed as though a championship were at stake. Thanks to a winning penalty shot, the yellow team prevailed by a 2-1 score.

Yellow team members scored early in the first 25-minute half with the red team coming back to tie the game early in the second. But with two minutes to play, the yellow team succeeded in hitting a penalty shot, giving its members a 2-1 edge.

It should have ended in a tie, some red team members joked.

Despite lots of kidding about the need for painkillers, the players, mostly in their 20s and 30s, played a fast-paced game moving up and down the field with little need for substitutes, except to give their colleagues time on the field.

Still a few of today’s varsity field hockey players were on hand calling on the alumni to keep their hockey sticks lower to the ground. They said they wanted to jump out on the field and help;  one graduating senior said she looked forward to coming back and playing on an alumni team next year.

Organizers Jade Duell and Rebecca Lillis-Cartselos used Facebook to reach out to alumni but some just weren’t available to play this year, Ms. Duell said. Several were either pregnant or had just given birth, she said. She hopes they’ll be there next year as she plans the event as an annual to revive interest in field hockey.

These days, soccer and lacrosse have replaced field hockey for many students, Ms. Duell said. She’s hoping the alumni game will revive interest in the sport.

Ms. Cartselos, who teaches at Oysterponds Elementary School, coaches field hockey alongside athletic director Todd Galluscio and she’ll be taking charge of the sport next year, she said. While there are about 25 junior varsity and varsity players, the junior high school team is small and she  hopes the alumni effort will inspire others to get involved with the sport she loves.

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Field hockey alumni game organizer Jade Duell with her son Ford following Saturday afternoon’s Greenport game. Proceeds will benefit the Greenport field hockey program that alumni fear is waning.

Several players from league-winning teams in the mid 1980s returned with Suzanne Horton of the class of 1983 coming all the way from Malibu, CA, to surprise her friends. Others came from Florida, Missouri, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

While a few played field hockey in college, most admitted they hadn’t played since their high school days.

See the slideshow below for a few shots of the action on Saturday.

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