Lakeland players become coaches

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Ashley McCord and Katelyn Smither have just one more shot to bring Lakeland High School another Southeastern District field hockey title; they’ll graduate next June. Fortunately, they’re doing all they can to ensure that the next few generations of Lady Suffolkians bring to high school the same skills that the Lady Cavaliers have used to win the district title the past two seasons.

They’re two of many instructors at the N2 Stix Field Hockey Camp, held all this week at Lakeland. Nearly 50 younger ladies from across Southeastern Hampton Roads are learning from the best the area has to offer.

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Over near the sidelines, Smither, who has led the region in scoring the past two seasons, shows a group of novice girls the technique of block tackling. &uot;When a girl’s dribbling toward you, try to drop your stick like this,&uot; she says, holding her stick nearly parallel to the ground. &uot;If they’re running at full speed, they’re going to run right past you, and the ball will be on your stick.

&uot;We do this to teach the fundamentals of field hockey for them to build on,&uot; she says, watching them put her words into action. &uot;If you don’t have the basics, you’re never going to be a good player. The stuff that (high school players) think is common knowledge, like how to hold your stick properly, they might not understand. But they make the same mistakes everyone else does, and it’s not really a bad habit; it’s just something they don’t know how to do. The important thing is to break it before it becomes a bad habit.&uot;

Neither she nor McCord showed many bad habits last season – besides helping the school to its second district unbeaten season in three years, both Lady Cavaliers made All-Region. &uot;It’s good to teach them something and then seeing them actually do it,&uot; said McCord, watching the girls do a miniaturized scrimmage. &uot;It’s really satisfying because you’re making an impact. You know they’re listening, and that you taught them something.&uot;

For the past two seasons, camper Janna Williams has been learning to drive the ball into the goal. &uot;I keep coming so I can learn more things about field hockey,&uot; says the Kilby Shores student. &uot;(The coaches) have taught me a lot, and I want to go to Lakeland so I can play like them – they’re really good!&uot;

&uot;They make everything fun,&uot; says Melanie Atkins, 11. &uot;We had fun dribbling the ball in and out of cones today. I hope I can be as good a player as them soon.&uot;