TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Sept. 28, 2015 — The accidental tailgate

As I was exiting the site of Turf Bowl on Sunday evening, I strolled to the car, which was parked in an out-of-the-way auxiliary lot at Rullo Stadium on the campus of the University of Delaware.

Upon nearing the car, I noticed a sizable group of people standing around the cars in the small lot. A pair of small tables were set up in the area where cars would make their way to Route 4. Food was being consumed, water bottles were at the ready, and members of the team I was just profiling for a video story later this week — Wilmington Delaware Military Academy (Del.) — were sitting cross-legged in a circle on the tarmac.

This was a serious tailgate for a high school team, the kind you would find at a state championship final, not after a regular-season game. Indeed, the size and buzz around it reminded me of the relentlessly awesome affairs that happen after University of Maryland and Princeton University games.

Thing was, the tailgate party was blocking me in my space. And I didn’t mind one bit.

Ever since beginning my life as a journalist, I understood that you had to get to know your story subjects as people in order to really understand what made them unique, or made them do what their particular endeavor was. I’ve done a lot of off-tape, off-the-record banter with various folks over the years, especially in field hockey.

I spent an afternoon with a former U.S. men’s international watching Olympic videos, just to get an idea of what he saw in terms of game play and what he was trying to teach his players.

I spent half of a JV game watching a very bright coach interact with her varsity players on the sidelines. The conversation was not one-sided, either in information or hierarchy. That coach, Jeanine O’Connor, would later join a very select group of coaches while heading up the Sewell Washington Township (N.J.) program: she is one of only four coaches to have ever guided a varsity field hockey team to a win over Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) during its run of 16 consecutive state championships.

I spent an afternoon as a ball boy during a junior national team four-nations tournament. I did public-address announcing for a county tournament final. Heck, I once broadcast an NCAA final on the radio.

So, set against the backdrop of all these experiences, it was very interesting getting to know this group of parents. They are building a team culture which may not benefit the DMA varsity immediately, but what they are doing is sure to help immensely in forthcoming seasons. 

The parents’ group is enthusiastic and unfailingly polite, and the players follow that example both on and off the pitch. A peanut butter brownie is offered with the same degree of earnestness as a through pass to an open teammate on the doorstep.

And when it’s time to go, the group cleans up after itself with (dare I say it?) almost military precision. 

So, what makes this team unique, apart from tailgating? Check back later this week.

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1 Comment»

  Danielle Schneider wrote @

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about our young but growing team/school. You’re more than welcome to come visit the campus anytime if you’re interested. Danielle WhiteDMA Head Field Hockey Coach

Date: Mon, 28 Sep 2015 21:43:29 +0000 To: dschneider11@hotmail.com


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