In its third year, Weddington High School (WHS) Club Field Hockey has, for the first time, full Varsity and JV squads. Anchored by returning Varsity Head Coach Tanja Donaldson, the learning team is working hard to simultaneously develop the school’s program and their own athletic abilities.
With a handful of returning players from last season, the program has continued to grow, as has interest and the level of play. Not coincidentally, that’s exactly what the club team’s sponsors, Ambush Field Hockey, have been striving for. Ambush is a non-profit local organization, based in South Charlotte, that aims to grow the game of field hockey by introducing and fostering playing opportunities to girls as young as elementary school through seasoned adults, via weekly clinics, year-round competition, and traveling tournaments. Consequently, it is their mission to get field hockey sanctioned as a North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCSAA) sport throughout the region.
Tanja Donaldson has served as Weddington’s varsity head coach since its start, in spring 2016. For the first time since the team’s inception, they had enough girls try out to comprise full varsity and JV squads, the latter of which is head coached by returner Beth Haemmerlein. Field hockey tends to be a smooth transition for soccer and lacrosse players interested in continuing competition and conditioning in the off-season, as the nature of the game is very similar.
WHS’ Varsity team is led by seniors and seasoned players Lizzy Halmy and BK Schmitz, who were enthusiastically elected team captains by their peers. And with a number of strong players making up the roster this year, Coach Donaldson recognizes senior Elizabeth Carlton, as “truly a beast on defense!” Moreover, there are a couple of younger players who have really shown true growth and dedication this season, namely sophomores Abby Sumner, Lily Barger and newcomer Kiki Quinn.
Field hockey has been fairly common among the Charlotte area’s private school circuit for several years, but is now really starting to gain steam in the public schools. In addition, the increase in northern transplants well-versed in the sport over the last several decades, is helping to spur interest. WHS is one of two teams (the other being Parkwood High) in Union County offering the sport. And while there were mutterings of a Cuthbertson High start this year, they are still in need of more demand to warrant the efforts.
For the time being, WHS teams compete against predominantly CMS schools, and while Varsity has yet to walk away with a game win, their level of play is improving each week, as is their confidence.
Donaldson beams, “We have an indulgent group of young ladies with a smattering of staunch, committed athletes and scholars. They know how to have fun, support each other, and really do love playing the game!”
What more could one ask for in a high school sport?!