"Try it. You'll like it."
"Try it. You'll like it."
That phrase - from old Alka Seltzer commercials - might be more familiar to parents of New Albany High School field hockey players than to the players themselves, but it certainly applies to the fledgling Eagles and their sport.
In its fourth season, Eagles field hockey - a school club program the past two years - has 60 players spanning the high school and two middle school teams. The high school team, which has 26 players, plays a mix of varsity and junior varsity teams in the hopes of not only improving, but also acclimating to the talent level necessary for becoming a full-time varsity sport.
"Like with any new club, it's all about getting the word out," said Teresa Wilson, the president of the New Albany Field Hockey Club, which runs the team. "With field hockey, so many girls in the Midwest have grown up without experiencing the sport. I grew up in upstate New York and we played it in gym class. Once I played it, I really liked it. It's been the same case with the girls here."
The Eagles are 1-3-1 against varsity teams this season, having defeated Lancaster (3-2 on Sept. 19), tied Kent Roosevelt (3-all on Sept. 17) and lost to Worthington Kilbourne (4-2 on Sept. 12), Stow-Munroe Falls (4-2 on Sept. 17) and Granville (5-1 on Sept. 22). They have played junior varsity teams from Olentangy, Upper Arlington, Hilliard, Columbus Academy and Olentangy Liberty.
"We're right in the middle," coach Malik Saeed said. "I think our talent is right above a j.v. team's and right below the varsity level. The program's still pretty new. We're still growing."
While field hockey is more deeply rooted in the Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland areas than in Columbus, the area boasts several varsity teams, including Academy, Bexley, Columbus School for Girls, Dublin Coffman, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Granville, Hartley, Kilbourne, Lancaster, Olentangy, Liberty, Olentangy Orange, Thomas Worthington, UA and Watterson.
The team's hope is that the high school realizes the program is progressing. Wilson made a presentation to athletics director Kevin Reed on Sept. 19 in the hopes of persuading the school to take on field hockey as its 23rd varsity sport. It became a school club sport last fall and has to remain one for a minimum of two years, after which time it will be eligible for varsity consideration.
"It's just a matter of costs and getting the school board to take it on," Wilson said.
In the meantime, the team is pushing forward.
Junior forward Elaina Enich, also the team's captain, has scored nine of the Eagles' 10 goals this season. She had three against Kent and two against both Kilbourne and Lancaster.
Freshman right wing Jamie Sevenish scored the team's other goal.
The Eagles end their season Oct. 6 at home against Scioto.
"We've come a long way," Wilson said. "The first year, we were worried about having enough jerseys for the team. We had 16 girls then. ... Now we think we can have enough to field two (high school) teams. That's why it's important we get to the varsity level and challenge ourselves even more."