High School Student Makes Waves in Hawaii with Aloha Hockey
Katie Meyer tells her story of moving across an ocean, from Ohio to Hawaii, and bringing the game she loves with her.
I picked up a field hockey stick for the first time in my life after moving to Toledo, Ohio in 7th grade. After two years of middle school hockey and discovering my passion for the game, I played varsity at my high school, Maumee Valley Country Day, participated in the Futures program and played for Pinnacle Field Hockey Club under Nancy Cox in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Pinnacle club team was one of the best things that happened to me throughout high school. I’d look forward to the two-hour drive up and back to Ann Arbor every week for practices. The group of girls I played with had been part of the first Pinnacle club team Coach Nancy had ever taken to the Disney Showcase and other USA Field Hockey events, something I’m so proud of and thankful to have been part of.
When my parents told me we were moving to Hawaii the summer before my senior year, I thought I’d be leaving behind my entire world. Just that past year, as a junior, I was captain of my varsity team and led them to the elite eight of the state tournament with a goal of reaching the championship game my senior year. On top of that, I would be leaving behind Pinnacle and Futures.
I knew that I needed field hockey to be a part of my life in Hawaii, even though I wasn’t entirely certain of whether or not I, personally, would have a place and group of people to play with on the island. When I went to the 2012 National Futures Tournament, I passed by the FUNdamental Field Hockey table and started thinking that even if field hockey wasn't in Hawaii currently, maybe I could bring it to the island through a youth program. I went back to the table, told them my situation and pitched the idea of FUNdamental Field Hockey in Honolulu, Hawaii, aka “Aloha Hockey”.
The idea really developed because of endless opportunities I had through field hockey. I thought back to the opportunities my high school team, Futures and Nancy Cox at Pinnacle provided me with on the field, and I wanted to give back to the game that gave me so much. Once my family was settled in Honolulu, I started reaching out to local schools and programs.
I wanted kids on the island to have the chance to gain exposure to a new sport and find a passion. I knew that if we focused on growing the game through younger kids in the local schools, they would have a chance to develop a love for the sport and play for the rest of their lives.
In Hawaii, I researched field hockey, hunting for somewhere, somebody, people who played field hockey so I could play. Eventually, I found them and rode my bike to play scrimmages twice a week. I played with people from all over the world—Germany, Brazil, India—and others who had played collegiately. The scrimmages were more than I ever thought I’d be playing in Hawaii.
One of the main challenges of bringing field hockey to Hawaii was convincing people the worth of having field hockey at their school or as a part of their club. After I convinced FUNdamental Field Hockey that shipping equipment across the ocean to Hawaii was a wise investment, I had to reach out as a newcomer to different schools to discuss the possibility of introducing field hockey to their students.
Convincing people that a sport they had never heard of was something worthwhile to their students took much more time and effort than I had originally assumed, and I was turned down by several schools and programs. Hitting these roadblocks was frustrating and difficult, but I continued to reach out to people because of my passion for field hockey and desire to make a difference in growing the game. However, eventually, I learned to get in touch with the right people and convinced them that field hockey is always worth it.
I worked with local Physical Education teachers to really bring the game to students and I was able to coach during my free periods. The Punahou School and my high school were right across the street from one another. During my free periods, I would run across the street with the equipment, coach and then run back to make my next class!
In total, I brought field hockey to four different schools, Punahou School, Maryknoll School, Washington Middle School and Central Middle School in Honolulu, Hawaii. I hosted day clinics with Boy Scouts of America and Boys and Girls Club of Kailua, Hawaii and I donated equipment to both Washington Middle School and Central Middle School. Watching kids grow and develop every week, and develop a true love for the game was the most rewarding aspect of the whole journey.
Aside from Aloha Field Hockey, I was still in the midst of searching for a college. As a Fall semester senior, my list was down to my top choices. I’d already told them of my situation, and the ones that were doubtful were the schools I knew wouldn’t work for me. Although, it was certainly hard letting some fall off my list, I knew the school where I was meant to be would understand the reality of my situation.
Many people doubted me in my move to Hawaii and assumed I was giving up on everything I had worked so hard for in field hockey. I quickly realized that when you love something as much as I love field hockey, there are no excuses for not chasing after your dreams and reaching your goals. I had already been through so many obstacles that I knew this was just one more to overcome, and with the help of my family, friends and supporters, I did just that.
I played in scrimmages; I worked on my sticks skills and played in my backyard with my brothers. When November rolled around, I was even able to attend the National Hockey Festival with Pinnacle thanks to the graciousness and kindness of Coach Nancy, as a final step in my recruiting process. When I took the field with Pinnacle, it was as if I had never left. Eventually and after a lot of hard work, the pieces fell together and I found the perfect fit in a school. Today, I currently play for Hobart & William Smith College in in Geneva, N.Y.
The last few years have been a wild, exciting and sometimes difficult ride, but I wouldn’t change a thing for the world. The experiences I had with Aloha Hockey will remain some of my fondest memories, and at the end of the day, I was able to share my love of the game with students who otherwise would have never been exposed to the sport and continue playing at a collegiate level. I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone who helped me along the way, especially my ever-supportive family, Coach Nancy and all those in Hawaii who gave me a chance even when it seemed like a long shot.