CONCORD (CBS) – In the first round of the high school field hockey playoff tournament Thursday afternoon, Wayland beat Wakefield 2-1. And both of Wayland’s goals were scored by boys on the team.
At the international and even Olympic level, men’s’ field hockey teams are everywhere. But in American youth sports, field hockey is typically played by girls.
That changed at Wayland High School this year, when Ethan Betancourt, his brother Zeke and his friend Aidan Chitkara joined the varsity team. None of them played a fall sport, and they had talked for years about trying field hockey, even spending all summer practicing for tryouts.
“The awkward part didn’t really hit me until I got to that tryout and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m really outnumbered here,’” Chitkara said.
The boys say the girls welcomed them with open arms after an awkward first few practices. “I give the girls a lot of credit because they’ve been really supportive,” Chitkara said.
And how could they not be? The team was in the playoffs for the first time in four years with the boys on board. “The girls were super excited about it because they knew that having boys was an advantage. Just ups the level of the game a little bit,” said Coach Shelly Fraser.
“I think that people are a little sacrificial in their playing time if it means that we’re going to go farther [in the season],” added team Captain Arden Knapp, pointing out how girls have welcomed the boys as team starters.
Wayland is the only team in its league with boys, and – because of that – both the team and its coach of 18 years are getting a lot of flack. “Opponents parents have been brutal this year on the sidelines,” Fraser said. “In the past, they’ve made boys cry. They knew to expect it from peers, but to hear it from adults has really been hard on them. It’s kind of a double standard. It’s often only when we’re beating them.”
But parents on other teams, like Wakefield, believe the situation is just unfair. “I don’t care where you fall in this whole thing, you can’t physically beat a boy,” said Alison Seabury, a Wakefield mom. “It’s not about intimidation. It’s about the fact that they can’t physically beat them. They’re stronger, they’re faster. It’s just not fair. These girls have worked really hard.”
Wayland parents are quick to point out: The team hasn’t won every single game, and they say it’s proof that all’s fair in field hockey. “It offends me when people assume that just because they’re boys, they’re automatically going to be better,” said mom Liza Knapp. “And that’s just not been the case.”