• October 2, 2023

The Girls of Clearview High Are Back on the Field

If the guiding principles of high school sport are competition, community, and shared goals, the 2020/21 school year has challenged them all. Close-knit teams, used to the physical camaraderie of the locker room or the huddle, had to keep their social distance; Coaches, used to the normal pattern of training and games, had to cancel training sessions, post training sessions online, and do their best to send encouraging emails to their players. Sometimes entire seasons have been canceled.

These disruptions hit many teams hard, but they created a unique frustration for those who had ended their breakthrough seasons the previous year. Such was the case for the girls’ field hockey team at Clearview Regional High School in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. only 30 minutes south of Mullica Hill. When Ewan (bottom center) took over the program in 2006, the records in recent years were around 0.500. But Ewan set out to build a competitive team. In 2012, she hired Jaclyn Guth, who played for Ewan, as assistant coach. “Before we were all old-school,” says Guth. “Britney has reworked everything: how to hit the ball, how to pass the ball, how to line up on the field and how to work with your teammates.”

By 2017, Ewan and Guth had led the team to the school’s first field hockey section title. The state championship two years later resulted in Ewan being named Trainer of the Year and a celebratory ride through town, courtesy of the local fire department.

Then came 2020, a relentless adversary faced with reigning high school state champions across the country. Clearview managed to get through much of the season – “I’ve always said that every day we have a stick in hand is a good day,” says Ewan – and triumphed over interruptions and injuries and Covid horrors and returned all the way back to the playoffs. But in November the section championship game was canceled and the 2020 season came to an abrupt end.

Nine months later, in mid-August, the team gathered for another title run. It started with auditions. The players looked nervous, but also comforted by the return to an old routine. When the exercises began after a mile-long warm-up run on the field, the sight and sound of hockey balls falling from a large cooler could be taken as a hopeful call to action.


“My sister was actually senior for the 2019 team that won the state championship. It was great for me to be so young and to see this game and see how they have done over the past few years.”

– Mia Clerval, ninth grade

At the start of each season, Coach Ewan gives their players a thick handout of team rules and expectations, as well as information about the recruiting process for those hoping for college. On the front page there is a quote attributed to the psychiatrist Karl Menninger: “Loyalty means that I share a common ideal with you and that, despite small differences, we strive for it shoulder to shoulder, trusting in good faith, the trust, the constancy of the other and affection. “

Ryan Remaly and Darian DeLeo are two recurring standouts who were newbies during Clearview’s 2019 title-winning season. Last year, the school’s varsity and junior varsity teams exercised separately due to Covid-19 safety protocols, which weakened the camaraderie and continuity of the program.

DeLeo adds, “It was definitely tough.” The social distancing requirements were frustrating. “We weren’t allowed to do things together that were useful, such as teamwork,” says DeLeo. “That makes the team so much stronger. Everything clicks. “

For some players, it was difficult to maintain motivation during the pandemic. “At the beginning of the season it was hard to remember my love for field hockey,” says Anna Bruno. Covid changed their usual preparations, which included playing for their club team and visiting university hospitals. But after her teammates chose their college captain, an award usually reserved for seniors, Bruno found inspiration again. “After we came back from a national championship, we had a lot of pressure on ourselves,” she says. “So my goal was to keep things upbeat and fun.”

Among the younger players who caught Ewan’s attention was a runner-up named Destiny Joseph, who played on the junior roster last year; She was an admiring eighth grader when Clearview won his state title. The loneliness of the lockdowns that she experienced made her realize how much she wanted to excel in field hockey and be part of a championship herself, says Joseph.

Dina Litovsky is a photographer from New York and writes regularly for Times Magazine.

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