Brittany Walker, the longest-serving member of the Greenport/Southold high school field hockey team, must have looked around at the start of the team’s first preseason practice on Monday morning and wondered to herself, “Who are some of these people?”
With the loss of seven players (all starters) from last year’s team, Greenport has seen a good deal of turnover. That’s a lot of positions to fill, and a lot of new faces to fill them with.
“We don’t all know each other,” said Walker, a senior forward in her fifth year on the team. “I played other sports with some of them … I recognize some of them, but I’ve never played field hockey with them.”
Some introductions may have been in order.
Aside from Walker, Greenport has only three other seniors: forward Jules Atkins and defenders Emelyn Azurdia and Nereida Torivio.
Goal scoring was an issue for Greenport, which went 3-11 last year. Defense could be a concern now. The only returning starting defender is sophomore Magda Rodriguez.
“I inherited a lot of seniors last year who were great, but now we really have a really brand new team, a very young team, which comes with its challenges and its greatness,” the team’s second-year coach, Kaitlin Daniels, said after the practice at Greenport High School. “We’re building from the ground up, but I couldn’t ask for better seniors to be setting a positive example for them.”
As part of Monday morning’s practice, the Porters played a version of tag. It was both cardio work and a team bonding exercise.
With a bunch of newcomers, developing a sense of camaraderie is as important as ever before Greenport opens its season Sept. 6 at Pierson/Bridgehampton.
“I really believe in team bonding,” Daniels said. “I think it’s important that the girls know each other, they trust each other and that they’re having a good time together. They want to come to practice and see their teammates. Any team that doesn’t have that feeling, it really shows on the field.”
Greenport is coming off a 3-11 season. The Porters lost some talented players and clearly having their work cut out for them.
“Definitely, we’re going to have to rebuild, and it’s going to be a learning experience for sure,” said Walker, who won the team’s Unsung Hero Award and shared the Coach’s Award with Atkins last year. “We have a lot of ninth-graders who haven’t played on the varsity level before. It will be a new experience for everyone, not just them, but it should be fun. We all get to learn from each other.”
Greenport’s seniors from last year have moved on. Ale Cardi, Liz Clark, Madison Hilton, Zoe Medina, Ashley Payne, Isabelle Torres and Lena Wolf are gone. Now it’s time for the new generation of Porters to make their mark.
“It kind of feels sad because this is my last preseason,” said Atkins.
Atkins and Walker have taken on enhanced leadership roles.
“They’ve really stepped up in a big way and they’re also familiar with my vision for the program and how I run it, having done it last year, so I really rely on them to set a positive example,” said Daniels.
Walker hopes that when the pieces are put together, it adds up to a “good, fun senior year. I want everyone to enjoy playing and to keep them playing … and really to just become a team and know that when we leave, when we step off the field for our last game, that we left everything on the field.”
Photo caption: Brittany Walker has been a member of the Greenport/Southold high school field hockey team longer than anyone else. (Credit: Bob Liepa)