Contributing Sources: SIT Committee, Jody Deems-McCargar, Chairperson and photographer Jeff Pyper
EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - September 21, 2017 - Women’s field hockey, popular for many years in Europe, was brought to the United States in 1906, when Constance Applebee came to Massachusetts to attend Harvard University’s summer school (women were not regularly admitted to Harvard until 1975) and introduced the sport to America.
Still widely-played at the high school and college level in the Eastern United States, women’s field hockey is coming into its own in the rest of the country, with numerous college teams as well as two high school teams right here in West Michigan - one at East Grand Rapids, another at Forest Hills and a third developing in Holland at West Ottawa High School.
Field hockey is a team sport similar to ice hockey, but played on a field of grass or turf. Eleven players, including a goalkeeper, attempt to move the ball into the opponent’s goal using a stick to hit a hard, plastic ball. Contact between players is not allowed.
In Europe and other parts of the world, field hockey is played by both men and women, although increasingly it is considered a sport for women. In the United States, while there may be a few places where men’s field hockey is played, it is primarily a sport for young women.
Men’s field hockey was included in the 1908 and 1920 Olympics and, since 1928, has been regularly played in the Olympic Games. Women’s field hockey was added in 1980.
Today, women’s teams bear little resemblance to Applebee’s first squad. Garbed in ankle-length skirts, crisply-ironed white or striped blouses, ties and lace-up black boots, young women in the early 1900’s played with enthusiasm and with exertion seldom seen at the time. A history written by two of Applebee’s players says, “This was an era in which it was barely acceptable to see ladies running, let alone brandishing weapons in pursuit of a little ball.”
Not only was the clothing different in earlier days, so too was the equipment. Sticks were generally made of wood, whereas today composite materials are more often used.
Earlier players didn’t use protective gear; young women today, who have certainly moved a long way from the long skirts and pristine blouses, now use shin pads, mouth guards and special shoes to provide extra grip. Goalkeepers wear leg pads, elbow pads, helmets and shoe blockers to protect their feet.
And appearing “ladylike” is never even considered. Young women of today are expected to be aggressive, focused and determined as they compete in sports.
Today, more than 300 colleges and universities have field hockey teams. It has moved into the high school ranks, too.
The East Grand Rapids (EGR) team has been in existence for 15 years and has steadily attracted more players whose level of play has risen with each year that passes.
EGR coach Ingrid Fournier was herself a collegiate player and expects her team to continue to improve, strengthen and chalk up an impressive number of wins.
Colleges are increasingly looking at high school players to recruit for their teams. Several girls on the East Grand Rapids teams have received scholarship offers; in fact, co-captain and goalkeeper Susannah Deems has received three such offers (and counting). Senior forward Jessie Trube has verbally committed to Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
In celebration of East’s 15th year of offering field hockey as a sports option, the senior players will be hosting a vintage field hockey game between their squads, representing Bryn Mawr versus Harvard, the first two teams to field women’s teams in the United States.
Wearing the long skirts, blouses and ties of days-gone-by, they will even be playing with antique sticks. USA Field Hockey has gone into its historical archives and have sent old-time field hockey sticks for use in the commemorative game.
For more information about the USA Field Hockey, visit usafieldhockey.com.
The vintage exhibition game will be held at Wealthy Field, 1961 Lake Drive, S.E., East Grand Rapids, at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 22, and will include not only the game, but also concessions that might have been available in the early days of the sport. The price of admission will reflect the era — one dime required per person. Spectators are invited to bring a picnic and blanket and enjoy stepping back in time.
For more information about East’s stellar team, visit www.egrfieldhockey.org/.
East Grand Rapids (EGR) Field Hockey Program will be stepping back in time to present:
Bryn Mawr College vs. Harvard University Field Hockey
- 1905 scrimmage
- Sunday, October 22, 2017 | 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
- Wealthy Field at Wealthy Elementary School | 1961 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Description of Event:
Players of the EGR Field Hockey Teams invite you to bring a picnic blanket and witness a one of a kind historic sporting event, 112 years back in time. Players have researched the earliest collegiate field hockey players, as well as legend Constance M. K. Applebee, to recreate the game that is near and dear to their hearts: one of the first field hockey scrimmages of 1905 at Bryn Mawr College.
Spectators will witness an authentic 1905 recreation of this beautiful game complete with period player and referee costumes, press box, old fashioned concessions with roasting of peanuts and cracker jacks, announcers, 100 year old sticks and game ball, sousa/ragtime band and more. Bring your family for an hour of inspiration and leave with an appreciation of history and what it was like to play a game at a time in history when things were very different for female athletes.
Tickets & Passing the Top Hat:
- Tickets: .10 cents
- Souvenir Newspaper/Program: $5.00
1905 Bryn Mawr College Field Hockey Team
2017 EGR Field Hockey Team Recreation