zLast week, women took park in marches all over the country. Women are using their voice more than ever to fight for equality with men. Over the past couple of months, the very successful US women’s national soccer team has been making headlines, fighting to get paid just as much as their mediocre male counterparts. Something that might give women, especially female athletes, across the country some hope is the USA field hockey program.
I sat down with former Boston College field hockey star and current member of the new developmental/U25 USA national field hockey team, Emily McCoy. We hear her thoughts on her great opportunity and the opportunities for girls in the sport
Q: Congrats on a great career! How did you get your start in the sport and did you play any other sports?
A: I started playing field hockey when I was five, but I just went clinics and camps or in the backyard with my mom. Nothing was really organized. I also played soccer and lacrosse growing up. I chose field hockey because my parents said it was less dangerous and it was easier to get a scholarship in the sport. My mom also saw my potential. I actually hated the sport to begin with because it was kind of boring and I was bad, but once I got the hang of it I realized how good I could be.
Q: How did this opportunity for the USA developmental team come around and what was your initial reaction?
A: After the college season, I received an invite from the coach for a tryout. The tryout was four days, with about 25 girls. Sixteen people made the final cut. It was cool to be invited. It’s different and you do not really know what to expect because of how new it is.
Q: Was continuing your career something you ever saw in your future?
A: Yes, I thought about continuing to playing after college, but it did not seem like there was a legitimate opportunity. I did think a little bit about going overseas. Going to Australia has always sounded fun and something to do for a few years right out of college. A lot of people end up in the Netherlands, England or Ireland to play. There are not that many options in the US.
Q: How far do you think USA field hockey has come? Does this show their commitment to female athletes?
A: In other countries across the world, girls grow up playing field hockey and there are opportunities to have long careers in the club world. Young kids in other countries grow up playing field hockey, like we play soccer or basketball in the US. USA field hockey saw how far behind they were compared to these other countries. The current head coach is Dutch, so she is helping the sport evolve here. The team has come a long way since she took over. The developmental team is coached by a Chinese woman. Field Hockey is also popular in China. People like this saw that there was a gap between the U21 age group and the national team. Before, if you did not make the national team, your career was basically over. Now, they are looking to develop players to ready them for the national team. This allows a larger number of players in the program. Adding just one team has created that much more opportunity.
Q: Is the full national team a dream for you or do you plan to pursue other opportunities?
A: I don’t really know, but going to the Olympics has always been a dream of mine. I’m just going to work hard and see what happens. The final decision is out of my hands. I am just glad there is now this opportunity. I feel like sports will always be a part of me, whether that be playing or doing something in sports marketing. Sports are something that I know so well and could not see my life without.
Q: I know there is also a men’s field hockey team. In your opinion, are they treated the same, different, or better than the women?
A: They are treated different. The women are ranked 6 in the world, while the men are ranked 29 in the world. All the women live in Lancaster, PA, which is the home of USA field hockey. They train every day, sometimes even twice a day there. The men do not do this and they train in California. They train a lot less as a full team. In this sport, the women definitely get more attention than the men.
Q: What would you say to young girls just starting the sport?
A: I would tell them that there is a lot of opportunity in this sport, so I would stay to stick with it if it something you like. It’s still not as well-known as soccer and lacrosse, but they are working to get to that point. The long-term dream is there to be more organized youth leagues. It would be awesome to have clubs across the United States in a league, much like the women’s soccer and hockey professional leagues. The hope is that there will be even more opportunities than there are now.