USA Field Hockey NEWS In Her Words: How Fi...

In Her Words: How Field Hockey Changed My Life

Nov. 13, 2020, 2:50 p.m. (ET)

Content Courtesy of NCAA

The Top 30 NCAA Woman of the Year honorees reached the pinnacle of athletics success, but to them, sports were more than competition. For these women, sports were a critical part of their journey that helped shape them as people. The 2020 honorees reflected on their unforgettable experiences by writing letters to their sports about the memories and lessons they’ll carry with them beyond collegiate athletics.

The following was written by Salisbury University standout Arielle Johnston, who is one of the nine finalists for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, and who will be recognized on the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year Award virtual awards show on Friday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The show will be streamed live on the NCAA Twitter account

Dear Field Hockey,

Wow, who knew the journey that would soon unfold after humbling myself and deciding to play the sport I thought was way too girly. Who knew then in the fifth grade when I borrowed my first stick and learned how to hold it that this would be our story.

What a platform you have given me, so many opportunities to love and bless people and to grow as an individual. It has not been an easy ride for us; in fact, you have been the source of much pain and frustration. But you have also been the source of much pleasure and joy.

Often, I have escaped to be alone with you, to free my mind and release my emotions. Oh, the time we have spent together in college getting to know each new stick. Oh, the long hours I have spent with you working on my game. You have pushed me Field Hockey, you have challenged me to be a better woman.

You have always demanded the best from me – anything less would not do. I could never get away with being timid or lazy, for you always insisted that I step up and embrace each opportunity. You challenged me to face all my weaknesses and fears and to grow. You would never let me remain the person I was when I first came to college. No, I am not her anymore.

Field Hockey, you have taught me to be determined and bold. You have taught me that I am capable of setting standards of excellence for myself and reaching them. You have taught me to better prepare, and as I like to say, “play the long game,” the game that involves little by little improvements with a belief that over time I will reach the goal I set and become the version of myself I aspire to be. You have taught me what it means to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, not just physically but socially.

You have shown me I am capable of whatever I am willing to believe and work for. And though the journey had many serious moments, you brought me back to the end of myself and reminded me that playing is about joy. It’s not so much about success, all though that is a contributing factor, but it truly is about enjoying what you have at the highest level that you can. Something I would not have been able to do if you first had not seriously molded me and shaped me into an athlete who could appreciate the hard work and the pain of the process.

Field Hockey, though sometimes I do hate to admit it, I would not be who I am today without the road we traveled on together. You molded me spiritually. My faith grew because of you.

You affected every part of my life. Every coach and player and experience you brought me to has left an impact and a mark on my being that I cannot deny.

Field Hockey, I am more courageous, more purposeful, and more able to accept any challenge because of you, and I thank you.

Sincerely, a long-time friend,