It’s halftime at Saturday’s field hockey game and Webb head coach, Allison Hodges, gives her players a few pointers and words of encouragement as they catch their breath and gulp down water in the mid-day heat. “I know it’s hot, but let’s be strong and support each other out there,” she says. “And remember, you’re part of school history.”
For years now, as the only high school field hockey team in Tennessee, the Webb School of Knoxville Lady Spartans have had no choice but to play opponents from outside the state, especially North Carolina. On September 7, at David Meske Stadium, that all changed. For the first time in its 20-plus-year history, Webb School faced off against the Ravenwood High School Field Hockey Club from Nashville, Tennessee.
“It was really exciting for us to finally play another team from the same state, said Hodges. “The Ravenwood team just started last year, so of course we were facing a bunch of unknowns – we didn’t know how experienced they were, their skill level, etc.” While the Lady Spartans wound up losing to the Lady Raptors, 5-0, Hodges noted that both squads were extremely supportive of each other. “It was so gratifying to play a team from Tennessee that is just as excited as we are about the sport of field hockey,” she said.
Hodges noted that for years, it has been a challenge for her players – many are new to the sport – to take on the more established high school programs in North and South Carolina. “But now that we have another Tennessee team that loves the sport as much as we do, it gives a different feel and an added energy that will only benefit our program at Webb."
For Hodges, who has coached the Lady Spartans since 2002, the addition of another high school field hockey team in Tennessee will hopefully increase awareness and generate excitement for the sport. “For years, people in Tennessee haven’t really known what field hockey is; they’ve thought of it as lacrosse,” she explained, adding that “Now with the addition of Ravenwood, I’d like to think that field hockey is on the road toward being better recognized throughout the state and will expand to other schools.”
The Lady Spartans and Lady Raptors are scheduled to meet again on the field; this time at Belmont University, October 19. Today, Webb hit the road for Asheville to take on longtime opponent Asheville High School. Go Lady Spartans!