This fall, in an effort to teach students that sports have an extensive global reach, Ajai Dhadwal, captain of the USA Men's Field Hockey national team, paid a visit to the sixth-grade boys field hockey classes.
During his time at Fieldston Middle, Dhadwal shared some of his experiences growing up in California and playing field hockey as a young boy. He also spoke about his journey to his current status as captain of the USA men's national team and assistant field hockey coach at Rutgers University. Dhadwal was impressed with our field hockey program and the number of girls (approximately 80) participating on two middle school teams and in the junior varsity and varsity programs.
But what caught Dhadwal's eye--and his reason for paying a visit to ECFS--was the physical education department's decision to establish a field hockey program for boys. While many countries throughout the world play field hockey and sponsor teams, it is usually their men's programs that stand out. In the United States, it's the opposite: more girls and women play field hockey, and scant attention is given to boys field hockey. "Anytime a school or club can reach out to boys--and give them an opportunity to learn a non-traditional sport--that's impressive," said Fieldston varsity field hockey coach Diane Toth.
As a guest coach, Dhadwal spent the afternoon with sixth graders and was a lead instructor, teaching the boys some of the basic skills of the game. He showed them how he executes those skills and played in an informal game with them, before concluding his visit with a Q&A session. He also cited a local club, the North East Field Hockey Association (NEFHA), that supports the growth of club field hockey in the New York metropolitan area.
As Coach Toth remarked, "Ajai has a wealth of passion and experience playing, and for him to be here at Fieldston was quite an honor for our students. I hope they realized that field hockey truly is an international game for men and women, boys and girls, and it is quite exciting."