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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Big Sister Program connects all levels of girls field hockey

Through friendship, teamwork and mentorship, the Big Sister Program unifies all levels of the girls field hockey program and sets each team up for success both on and off the field.

Look out onto Downes field on a Friday afternoon and you will see groups of girls gathering, smiles spread across their faces. The light of the sun reflects off the dewy green grass as girls from all three levels of the field hockey program sit down with one another and begin to bond.

This past year, the girls field hockey teams implemented the Big Sister program, which unites the freshman, junior varsity (JV) and varsity teams. Every Friday practice, players from each of the teams spend time with their group of sisters.

In each group, there is an oldest, middle and youngest sister, all of whom are on different teams but play the same position. For example, the freshman player would be the youngest sister, JV would be the middle, and varsity would be the eldest. Sophomore and middle sister Zaira Johnson said that the girls sit together and talk to one another about school, their personal lives and more.

“I think it’s a really good way, especially if you’re a freshman, to be introduced to this [team] and get to know people who can help you out,” Johnson said.

The sisters do more together than just talk. Senior and captain Piper Kelly said that for other bonding activities the groups of sisters do things such as 3v3 field hockey tournaments where they play against one another, pairing skill development with a fun and dynamic environment.

“It’s giving us a way to build community within the program,” Kelly said. “Not just on each team but kind of connecting each level: varsity, JV, and freshman.”

Prior to the program, freshmen were somewhat disconnected from the other teams, as they practiced alone at Fisher Hill Park while JV and varsity teams practiced together. This year, the team has made an effort to unite all the players during weekly Friday practices.

“We all warm up and do drills together, so it’s different [bonding] in the sense of getting to actually know the players than to just be playing with them,” freshman and youngest sister Molly Schroder said. “We already have a sense of togetherness … and it becomes much easier to play once you get to know the people you’re playing it with.”

The strength of the bonds built in this program is evident both on and off the field. For example, Schroder said that one day, she was walking down the street, and she saw a group of varsity field hockey players in a car together, waving to her.

“That just would never happen otherwise. It’s just fun to have a connection with the older kids that otherwise I would just walk right past,” Schroder said.

Not only does the Big Sister program provide a nurturing environment with security for the newcomers, but it also helps to pass down the traditions and friendships that develop each year.

“As I’m getting ready to leave, [it’s about] handing that [sense of community] over to the younger players and giving them that motivation to keep building the program,” Kelly said. “I do feel like within the past few years, we’ve made a name for ourselves more than we have before.”

Kelly would like to keep a competitive and welcoming spirit among her and her teammates, and she said that this program is a perfect way to do exactly that.

In addition to unifying the teams and inspiring a successful future for the program, Schroder said that the Big Sister program has offered her a community of friends and mentors whose reach extends far beyond the field.

“I look up to a lot of the older sisters, and it’s scary to talk to upperclassmen, but honestly, they’re all just so nice. I found so many new people and I see them in the hallway and they’re all saying hi to me. It’s really awesome,” Schroder said. “I feel much better about going to high school knowing all these upperclassmen have my back.”

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