(This is the latest in a series of entries by guest bloggers throughout the high school spring sports season. Stamford High senior Emily Powers, a starting defender for the school’s two-time state championship field hockey team, is playing lacrosse this spring though she had never picked up a stick before and the program is still competing on the JV level. She will tell you why and document the experience.)
By Emily Powers
The first uniform I put on when I arrived at Stamford High School four years ago was a cheerleading uniform.
Boy, how things have changed.
High school is just about over, and among the many things I am going to be leaving behind is the athletic program.
I’m using my last entry to recap the accomplishments that have come from being part of the Stamford athletic program.
Freshman year really began in 8th grade, when I tried out to be a part of the Stamford High cheerleading team. It was something as a young girl I had always aspired to be a part of. There was a legacy for winning FCIACs every year, and always dominating when it came to competitions.
That season for us was no different. At tryouts, as a freshman, I had the fourth-highest score out of 30 cheerleaders, and my high school career started.
We won FCIACs, finished third in the state and got a bid to regionals for the first time in the program’s history.
While regionals didn’t go so well, it was still a huge accomplishment and I was proud — and still am — to be a part of that squad.
That spring, I was recruited to the track team and, well, let’s just say track wasn’t for me.
I don’t know what got into me, but sophomore year I traded the pom-poms and mini skirt for a field hockey stick and mini skirt. I went to one camp before the preseason from hell.
When I was doing my mile run completely out of shape, and my 300-yard sprints gasping for breath, I was wondering why I would ever trade the pom-poms in for this.
Everyone told me after the first week of preseason that it is not so bad, and they were right. I was on junior varsity that year and started on defense. (Why defense? Less running, in my mind.)
The varsity had a decent season, much better than the year before, and as for the JV, we held our own.
I opted to stick with the same fall sport my junior year, and it turned out to be the best decision of my life. Back to another preseason, this year much smoother, and that was because I had a completely different mindset going in. I was fighting for a spot on the varsity team. Both defenders had graduated and left us with big shoes to fill.
I guess I either had a great preseason, or sucked up to Coach Forker and Coach Lutz enough to get a starting spot. That season was spent training harder than anything I’ve ever trained for in my life, and the outcome was so rewarding it made it all worth it. The Stamford High field hockey team won the CIAC Class LL championship for just the second time in school history.
Senior year was the time for the members of the Class of 2009 to shine. I had impressed Forker enough in the 2007 season to be named a captain for the 2008 season.
Coming off a state championship, your expectations are that nothing less than victory is satisfactory. This made it really hard to lose our first game of the season to Greenwich.
The practice after that game was nothing but running, and if you know the Stamford High field hockey team, you know we are not big fans of sprinting. We won six straight games after that until Madi McLaughlin, one of the best players in the state and a fellow captain, got injured.
This truly was a rollercoaster season if there ever was one. After two players were suspended for a couple games, our season really took a turn for the worst. We lost to our city rival Westhill, 3-1, on our senior night, we got embarrassed by Darien, 6-0, and I guess many people were starting to lose faith after that.
That’s when we became lucky number 13. Being the 13th seed going into the state tournament, we had a postseason of upsets and beat the best teams in the state, making it all the way back to the state championship game.
We ended up playing to a tie and becoming co-champions. Back-to-Back, as our state championship rings read.
I thought that would be my last game ever in a Stamford uniform, until I decided to pick up a lacrosse stick in the spring. While I wasn’t great at it, everyone told me that for a first-timer I learned the game pretty quickly.
My last game of the season, I had a shot on net that missed about five inches wide, and that’s when I knew I had improved greatly. The coaches and my teammates helped me through the season, never criticizing me and always wanting to lend a helping hand.
Four years ago, if you had told me I’d be where I am now, I wouldn’t have believed you. I made it to regionals for cheerleading, I’m a back-to-back state champion at a sport I only picked up as a sophomore, and I’m officially a lacrosse player.
High school has truly been a bumpy ride, but everything was well worth it. Though I won’t even again put the No. 10 Black Knight jerseys on, I will never forget any memory made in those jerseys.
So farewell Stamford athletics, and thanks to my coaches, teammates and athletic directors for a wonderful four years!
Note: An expanded version of this entry will be appearing in Sunday’s Stamford Advocate.