The fall field hockey season is normally filled with multiple games each week, followed by the conference tournament and the NCAA Championship. But in 2020, with the nation still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saint Joseph's field hockey team endured a unique set of circumstances: a September, October and November without any interscholastic competition. No games, no tournament, no cheering crowds.
"One moment can change a life, ignite a flame, or fuel a belief," head coach Lynn Farquhar said. "Our theme, 'Power of Moments,' was set back in the summer when we were working through COVID-19 on our own. As we returned to campus this fall, our staff knew giving hope was a top priority.
"As a staff, we re-prioritized; we knew we could develop even without the games. As a program, we were determined to create powerful moments of our own. Alumnae stepped up, we had a guest Zoom appearance from U.S. Women's Soccer '99er Brandi Chastain, and many 'Ten Moments.' Through transition came our greatest impact, as we welcomed current USA Field Hockey national team players, Alyssa Parker and Taylor West, to Hawk Hill. Their character, competitive spirit and attention to detail is top of the line," Farquhar said.
"Our team was so fortunate to gain Taylor and Alyssa this fall!" senior Sara Hayes said. "They brought their energy, passion for the game and a competitive spirit to every training session, which was contagious for our players group. Big 'thank yous' go out to Taylor and Alyssa for giving up their time and sharing their talents with the Hawk Hockey program in order to grow the game."
Parker has made 46 appearances with the National Team, making her debut in 2017 at the Hawke's Bay Cup in New Zealand, where she helped the United States to a fourth-place finish. She would go on to compete in series against Belgium, Canada, Chile and The Netherlands, as well as last year's Olympic qualifying matches in India.
"Working with the Hawks was a treat! Not only is the hockey high-level, but the grit and competitiveness among the student-athletes during a time when it's easy to feel unmotivated truly inspired me."
West is a veteran of 79 caps with the USWNT, having made her debut in the very same match in New Zealand. She has helped lead the Stars and Stripes to a gold medal at the 2017 FIH Hockey World League semifinals in South Africa as well as a bronze medal at the 2017 Pan American Cup held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
"I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spent with the Hawks," West said. "I was grateful for the opportunity to work with the coaching staff and student-athletes. Being on the 'other side' of the game allowed me to learn a lot about analyzing the tactical and technical aspects.
"I truly enjoyed working with the staff and team. The culture and competitive environment was refreshing to be a part of."
"Having Taylor and Alyssa join us had a strong influence on our unusual fall training season," sophomore Anna Miller said. "They brought such a positive and competitive energy that helped us raise our game and learn new skills to help us in the future."
"I'm proud of this team and staff for staying in the moment and keeping their focus on what we could in fact control through a very fluid time," Farquhar said. "We were able to forget about the pandemic for brief moments on the turf; that's something I cherished every day.
"I give a tremendous amount of credit and gratitude to Taylor and Alyssa," she added. "These are top athletes in the U.S. whose lives were put on pause and still haven't fully resumed, but they're giving back to the game and continuing to develop themselves."
"I have played for many influential coaches during my career that have contributed to my development as a player and a person," West said. "Working with the SJU staff and team was no exception to this. Field hockey has given me many opportunities and welcomed challenges along the way, as well as cherished memories and life lessons. Through new coaching opportunities, at the collegiate level or in youth sports, I can only hope that I'm able to pass on a small percentage of what I have learned from the many coaches that shared their passion for the sport with me."
The Hawks are hoping to put their experiences this fall, and the knowledge gained from working with a pair of National Team members in Parker and West, to use in the spring.