Mathew Galvao ’17
The Merrimack College field hockey team looks a little younger than a year ago. The roster includes 11 underclassmen with five freshman. The team is very young as you can imagine but have had a couple of bright spots in freshmen Rylee Hammond and Taylor Simpson. The duo have been getting it done on the field for the Warriors and have contributed greatly in their short time here.
The two believe that the season thus far has gone well especially as freshman. Knowing that they have support throughout the team in their transition to college makes things a lot easier for the two of them.
“Coming into the season and into college I was a little nervous because it’s a whole new experience and whole new level of play”, said Taylor Simpson. “We adapted well with the team and were able to fit in.”
As any college athlete knows, the transition from high school to college athletics isn’t always the easiest. The pace of play picks up as well as the physicality of the sport. Players are much faster, bigger and physically stronger than in high school. Taylor and Rylee have now gone through the process and know the ins and outs of what freshman athletes go through from playing high school to college.
“It’s definitely a lot faster and more time consuming. As high school wasn’t as much of a demand”, explained Simpson.
“It’s way more intense but I feel it’s more rewarding,” added Rylee Hammond.
With the team being as young as it is that leaves a great amount of responsibility for their more experienced players to step in and help lead the team. Players like tri-captains Abbey Stacey, Katie Bishop, and Sydney Bowker as well as the other upperclassmen had to take on a much bigger role in guiding this young team. Simpson and Hammond feel that this has greatly helped them in their transition to college.
“They’ve definitely helped us out a lot. Through practices and games they’ve been there for us,” Simpson stated. “We know that they’re right there behind us if we need any help.”
“Even with questions non field hockey related like academics they’re there to help,” said Hammond. “I’m a sports med major and a lot of them are as well and they’ll let me borrow books and it’s just so helpful.”
“On the field they’re there to give you tips, and help you with everything. They don’t let you stand alone.”
It’s pretty clear that Rylee Hammond and Taylor Simpson have had a tremendous amount of success in their freshman year. Simpson leads the Warriors with (10g, 3a) for 23 points. On the other hand, Hammond is second on the team with (6g, 5a) for 17 points. Both frosh have are in the top five of their teams scoring.
“I think so far we’ve been working well with the team and because we’ve had that support behind us it’s been able to let us be successful on the field”, Simpson explained.
“It’s definitely the bond we’ve had of the field that made us successful on the field”, said Hammond. “Without them and the support and connections we’ve had, we would never be where we are.”
This is the first season that Rylee and Taylor are playing together and it almost looks as though they’ve been playing together for years. It’s like they have a connection out on the field. Becoming friends on and off the field has helped them both, along with bonding with the team earlier on in the preseason.
“I think we’ve definitely found chemistry on the field,” said Simpson. “At first this was a hard adjustment because we had to adapt playing with each other, but it gone pretty well.”
“It’s all about the relationship off the field, it really is,” Hammond said. “If we weren’t friends it would be harder.”
Rylee and Taylor decided to attended Merrimack for the same reasons that many of the reasons why many of the other student athletes decide to come here, for the great academics that the school provides along with great athletics. Taylor aspires to be a teacher while Rylee is seeking a career in athletic training. Along with academics both were excited to play on such a prestigious field hockey program.
“I’m an education major which a big major here and I liked the small campus with a good teacher student relationship,” Simpson explained.
“I’m a sports med major which is big here, and it’s like a community and a very sports minded school,” Hammond explained. “We just really got to connect with all the girls here.”
The Merrimack field hockey program has been one of the best programs for the past few years. Going to three NCAA Final Fours in the past three seasons, it’s obvious that playing for Merrimack is something that high school athletes would love to do.
“Coming in I think we’ve learned a lot. Coming in from high school I didn’t know how much we were going to learn and how much are play was going to change,” explained Hammond. “Playing for Merrimack has been completely rewarding.”