By John Anderson
For the second time in the past three years, 5 graduates of Auburn High School and its stellar Field Hockey program will be playing at the college level in the fall. For the math majors out there, that’s 62.5% of the 8 seniors on last fall’s team.
During the morning of May 15th, 7 seniors gathered with coaches Bethann Cormier and Lee Durden at Eller’s in Leicester for the traditional seniors’ breakfast. Caitlyn Bailey was unable to attend. This was a great time to talk to the core members from 2015, and I joined the group as they were finishing their meals. I wanted to avoid those awkward moments of speaking with your mouth full, something that would have limited the responses from these 7 classy ladies.
The Class of 2016 has had quite the ride in athletics during their four years in high school. For field hockey, the 2012 season ended in a 1-0 loss to Lunenburg in the first round of playoffs and a final record of 15-1-3. Fortunately, that was their worst of four seasons which included 3 state finals. 2013 was 19-0-1; 2014 was 13-3-4; and 2015 was once again 19-0-1.
Those intending to play college field hockey are: Shannon Hynes at WPI, engineering; Ann Matthews at Westfield State, health sciences; Jess Clifford at Western New England University, health sciences; Jackie Clark at Western New England University, undecided; and Abby Lucas at UCONN, exercise science. Lucas is the only player attending a D1 school, and she hopes to pursue an athletic scholarship after her freshman season.
Those not intending to play are: Hanna Harris at Springfield College, physician’s assistant; Maddie Lucier at Western New England, physician’s assistant; and Ciatlyn Bailey at Salem State.
When asked about what they’re leaving behind for next year’s team, Jess Clifford said, “They know what’s it like to be on a team, and they want to get to the tournament.” Abby Lucas added, “They know our passion for the game.”
Jackie Clark mentioned, “There’s a lot of tradition” while Hanna Harris added, “The seniors coming up want to be the best.” Shannon Hynes said, “There’s a good vibe with this team.”
About the last four years, Clifford said, “We only lost 8 games in 4 years.” Lucas said they were well prepared for high school field hockey and she hopes she is well prepared for college field hockey. “This was a huge advantage over other teams we played.”
Coach Cormier confirmed, “That’s what makes these kids different. They stuck with it.” “We’ve always had this bond, and the graduates come back and help. They support the next team.” “After our last game of the season [the state final loss to Watertown] we held a team practice. They showed up.”
Cormier also credits the middle school program for developing new players, and Coach Durden agreed, “Organized team sports early builds athletes.”
In real life, futures are unpredictable, but the past isn’t. Four years at Auburn High School has shaped the lives of 8 young women for sure. And, it is for the better. Ann Matthews told me, “It feels different when you’re playing for your town. I’m not sure what college will be like.” That is something everyone will find out come September.
Harris summarized, “Everyone is in the sport for the same reason” and Hynes said, “Field hockey was the best part of high school.”
Thank you ladies for helping Auburn Field Hockey become the legacy sport it is. The future is bright because of your hard work.