CHATHAM, NJ - The night before the season opener, the Chatham field hockey players gathered around a fire pit and wrote down their personal goals on a piece of paper.
The goals were then burned in the pit and the ashes were placed in an urn that the team carries to each game. It's given to a player to hold onto after each game and that player then decides who will receive it at the following game.
"The idea of the urn is to remind ourselves why we're out here every day," senior Hailey Coates said. "The whole team put in one personal goal. We know what it says, so we can push ourselves. My goal was to work on bringing the ball up more myself because I often pass too soon. And to become more of a leader on the field because I'm a captain."
Charlotte Hamilton presented the team urn to Coates on Monday after she scored three straight goals in a 4-1 win over Randolph.
Hailey Coates is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
There are plenty of athletes known for letting their play on the field do their talking for them. Coates believes it's essential to talk a good game as well.
"Since you can only use one side of the stick and the ball cannot hit your feet, you have to keep your head down a lot of the time," Coates said. "A good player can keep their head up, but it's not easy to do. So you have to talk in order for your teammates know where you are so they know what to do with the ball. You talk to let a teammate know they have space and to work together on defense.
"I didn't start out as a player who talked a lot on the field. I am a senior, so I have to step up to that role."
Coates also did a lot of talking at halftime of the Randolph game when the game was tied at 1-1.
"On the second day of preseason, the coaches brought up our effort and told us they had higher expectations for us," Coates said. "The third day we came out and proved ourselves. At halftime, I reminded the team that we are still the team from that third day and not the team that doesn't bring it."
Coates backed up her words with two goals after the break, notching her first career hat trick in the win. On the season, she has five goals and two assists through seven games.
"Hailey is a dynamic player, she's one of our best passers," Kaitlin Leyden, Chatham field hockey coach, said. "She's a forward who is very smart. She understands where to place the ball and where to be. She just keeps on coming and she knows exactly where to be."
Coates was the one who came up with the idea of burning the goals and passing the urn, which she put into action after consulting the other seniors on the team.
"I just thought it was important that even if we lose to highlight that there is always good on the field and we should recognize it, no matter the outcome," Coates said. "My parents describe me as a sweet competitor because I don't want anyone to lose, but I always want to win.
Coates also was the starting left fielder on the Chatham softball team that won the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 3 state championship and advanced to the Group 3 state final for the first time in school history.
"I love the physical challenge of field hockey, especially compared to softball," she said. "Softball is not really a workout, it's more of a mental sport. Field hockey is a good outlet for me. I push myself to get past the harshness of the moment because I know how good I'll feel when it's done.
"I love that in field hockey it's very fast. If you make a mistake, you just run back and recover. In softball, if you make an error, you sit there and live with it. It's so much more exciting when you make a good play (in softball) because it's all you."
Coates is also working on her Girl Scout Gold Award, which is getting students and senior citizens together in for a "inter-generational" program that has students and senior citizens interact face-to-face.
"I'm working with the Senior Center of the Chatams and the Key Club to set up times for students and seniors to get together," Coates said.
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.