While team trips to other schools can be chaotic affairs — complete with forgotten water bottles and last-minute trips to the corner deli to grab snacks — the all-new Fieldston Middle School ice hockey team players were packed and ready to go, pads and skates at their sides. Coach Kirk Jackson marveled at their preparedness as he boarded the bus, settling in among the players. As the bus headed to the Birch Wathen Lenox School, the team buzzed with excitement.
Jackson formed the ice hockey team this year after gauging the interest of kids who already played on club teams and would one day want to join ECFS’ varsity squad. Interest was high, and just like the varsity team, which allows promising 8th Graders to join their practices, the Fieldston Middle School team welcomed a few young standouts: three 5th Graders from Fieldston Lower School and one from Ethical Culture. In February, Anthony L. ’27, Kai V. ’27, Reed O. ’27, and Rory G. ’27 joined seven Fieldston Middle Schoolers on the ice for their historic first game — “the debut of Fieldston’s future stars,” as Jackson put it. The game was daunting, to say the least. It was the first time the athletes had played together — they’d never even had a practice. “We gave them jerseys, and out we went,” Jackson says.
Just like that, they were in the thick of it. Birch Wathen Lenox (BWL) brought out its players, who were older, bigger, and more experienced. In the first ten minutes of the game, the Fieldston Middle School team was “a little on the nervous side and starstruck,” Jackson says. The jitters showed: BWL scored five goals in the first period. (“The kid that scored the five goals plays on their varsity team and looked like Goliath,” Jackson says.)
But the Eagles stayed in it. After a dizzying first period, “they battled hard and put themselves in the line of fire. They were quite tenacious,” Jackson says. In a moment of gripping excitement, Fieldston Lower School’s own Rory scored a goal — the first in the team’s history. While the final score came out to 7-1, Jackson is clear that the result is hardly a measure of the game. The bench was full of smiles, and the team “played like real warriors who never gave up until the final buzzer,” he says.
The 5th Graders are certainly inspiring fandom around the school. “I am very proud of Rory, Reed, and Kai, and am grateful they have the opportunity to play with the Fieldston Middle School team. This experience is not only great for the boys, but it also means that future ECFS hockey teams will have seasoned veterans already on the team!” says Fieldston Lower School Principal Joe McCauley. Ethical Culture Principal Rob Cousins echoes the sentiment, saying, “What an achievement for Anthony to play in the big leagues! I look forward to seeing how his hockey career progresses.”
What’s next for the Fieldston Middle School team? Jackson is at work finding other opponents, and the team members are eager to get back on the ice. They did ECFS proud, and, as Jackson says, anyone could “learn lessons from the way these kids went out there and represented Fieldston.”