ROXBURY, NJ -- In hopes of increasing local interest in field hockey by exposing girls to it at a young age, Roxbury High School rising senior Sarah Richman hosted an instructional clinic at the school recently.

While sports like softball and soccer are introduced to kids as early as age five, most girls won’t encounter field hockey until seventh grade. Richman pointed to herself as a perfect example, noting she began playing softball somewhere between the ages of eight and 10 and didn’t have field hockey available until her freshman year of high school.

But Richman has since fallen for the sport, and wants to expose other girls to the factors she enjoys about it.

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“I like the teamwork in it,” she said. “Softball’s more of an individuality sport. So you struck out, it’s all on you. But field hockey, if you miss the ball, you have a teammate right behind you who can get it for you.”

At Richman’s recent clinic, girls in grades five through eight learned fundamentals of playing field hockey and the rules of the sport while running some mini-games meant to hone their skills, according to a recent press release.

Richman organized the clinic because “it’s disappointing when so many girls have the opportunity to play field hockey at Eisenhower [Middle School], but when they get to the high school, they often choose a sport that they have been playing since they were much younger,” she said in the release.

Eisenhower Middle School does not offer field hockey until the seventh grade (and didn’t offer the sport at all until the year after Richman graduated to high school), so many of the girls at the clinic had no previous experience with the sport.

Still, the girls attending all seemed to get a great first impression of the game, Richman said. She passed out mini-questionnaires at the end of the camp, asking participants to answer prompts on a scale of one to five. Sample questions included, “Did you enjoy it?” “Did you think you learned everything you wanted to?” and “Do you want to play when you’re older?”

“Almost every single girl put five for every single thing saying that they loved it, they would want to play when they’re older,” Richman said.

Richman organized the clinic for her Girl Scout Gold Award project, and had some of her high school teammates help demonstrate and explain drills. She was very happy with the results of the camp.

“Truly, it feels great, because knowing that I have had an impact on at least one kid and knowing that I’m helping the sport I love increase, it’s just a good feeling,” Richman said.

Her next step is to contact Roxbury Recreation Director Keith Knudsen to check on the feasibility of starting a field hockey recreation program in Roxbury that could influence more girls to opt for playing the sport in high school.

Richman can be reached at srichman17@roxbury.org for more information on field hockey.