Learning a new sport is a challenge.
Especially when it’s an entire team that’s picking up the new game.
But that’s what the Benjamin Rush High School field hockey team was up against in 2019, when the school started offering the sport.
The first year produced no victories.
Then came the pandemic, which caused a drastic reduction in games.
After that, only two members of the original group remain on the team: Taylor Reynolds and Alana Sosa.
“I wanted to try a new sport and they were starting a new sport so I tried it out,” said Reynolds, a defender who lives in Morrell. “It’s definitely a learning experience. We are now on our second coach, so it’s been a lot of students building the team and finding ways to improve.
“A lot of it was taking time outside of the season to get better. I went to a lot of camps with college coaches, learned a lot and brought it back to the team, and we all improved together. Me and Alana are the captains of the team, so we kind of took on that role.”
“I first started playing when I got to high school, I never played before,” said Sosa, a midfielder who lives in Frankford. “Mr. (Todd) Corabi asked me to join because they needed players. It was new, and I didn’t know what to expect. It was fun and I made a lot of friends, met Taylor and that was nice.
“I never thought I would be a captain. I showed up a lot and I really cared about it. It grew on me. It became very important. And I really wanted to help the team become better and win.”
After a winless campaign as freshmen, the team finally experienced payoff for all the hard work when it won a game and also earned a tie.
Since then, it’s been going much better, and this year, the team is 4-2 through six games. The two returning players are leading the way on a team that includes some young players who have never played the game.
Luckily, they have a pair of players who were in the same boat a few years ago.
“I care about my team and want to do what’s best for them, win or lose,” said Reynolds, who majors in dance at Rush. “I want them to carry on the team. We build the team and we want it to succeed after we’re gone. I definitely want to try to come back and watch and see how the team does.”
“I care about the team and I really hope we’re good and make our mark this year,” said Sosa, who is majoring in graphic design. “It’s very important they do well because we started off so small and not knowing what we were doing. We came all the way up. It’s amazing. So I’m very proud. I’ll be back to see games, definitely, I want to watch them and how they play. I think we can be good this year and after this year.”
Reynolds and Sosa do their best to lead their team on the field.
But they work hard to lead off the field as well.
Because the team includes a lot of new players, both work hard to show the newbies what it takes to represent Rush.
But they’re also cognizant that they need to be a mentor away from the field, too.
According to the captains, it hasn’t been a hard job.
“I’m not surprised that we’re improving a lot because a lot of the new players are putting in the work and it’s showing up on the field,” Reynolds said. “They’re doing it willingly. We are encouraging them and trying to help them with the game, but they’re putting in the hard work on their own. That’s been great.”
So have the leaders.
And as much as the girls love Rush and believe this year could be a memorable one, they’re both starting to look toward the future.
Reynolds, who is heavily involved in dance, including teaching it, National Honor Society and volunteer work, hopes to become a teacher after college. She intends on playing field hockey while studying education.
“I like having that role of someone a student can turn to,” Reynolds said. “I know a lot of teachers throughout the years have helped me, I want to be that kind of person they can turn to. I’ve mainly thought about teaching English, but on the side teaching dance. A lot of my teachers have other jobs, so I think it’s something I could do as well.”
While Reynolds has an eye on education, Sosa is planning on sticking with what she’s learning at Rush.
“I want to study graphic design, I’ve always been into art,” said Sosa, who is also a shortstop on the softball team. “I was in visual arts, but I did grow into doing art digitally and I really like creating things like the album cover or typography. I think I would like education, I would want to teach younger children to help them learn about new things and teach them in general about life. That’s another thing I”m considering.”