Since many people remain out of the loop on Field Hockey I figured it was time to do an interview with one of the stars of the sport. So far this season few players have made a bigger impression than Eileen O’Reilly, official Balladeer’s Blog nickname “Lady O”. O’Reilly plays Forward for the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats of NCAA Division 3 so, yes, the headline for this piece is a lame play on field hockey and half of her school’s name. (Plus rumor has it O’Reilly is just crazy about Field Marshall Montgomery of World War II fame. I’m kidding!) Eileen O’Reilly and her teammates have led the Diplomats to their highest-ever ranking and have so far compiled a 5-1 record on the season. O’Reilly has been a standout player, often contributing more than one goal or assist per game, but obviously feels more comfortable staying out of the limelight and adhering to the “team” concept, so in deference to her “It’s not about me” approach I’ll lay off the glowing review I had planned of her stats for this year. (Psst! You can look them up at the F&M athletics site! The link will be at the end of this interview. Don’t tell her I told you!) Anyway, we’ll dive right into the interview with O’Reilly, who proved to be a very articulate representative for the massively underappreciated sport of field hockey.
Balladeer’s Blog: To put you at your ease about being singled out for attention, right off the bat what complimentary remarks would you like to make about your teammates?
Eileen O’Reilly: All of the recognition our team has received this season, both national rankings and individual achievements, reflects a collective effort to be a great team. Many teams have one or two standout players that they constantly look to as the playmaker. At any given moment of a game we have 11 playmakers on the field. Many of our goals start from a great defensive stop below our fifty-yard line, then shift to flawless passing in the midfield, and end with strong finish on the forward line. I really believe our team has been so successful so far because of this team dynamic. We have a unique group of girls that want to win and have fun. We constantly encourage each other to work hard and improve. I know I can rely on my teammates on and off the field. We’re very supportive of each other whether its field hockey related or not.
BB: How would you complete this sentence: This year I’m having the kind of season I am because I _______.
EO: I face tough competition every day at practice. My teammates constantly push me to work hard, which really helps elevate my game. It’s a huge advantage to face a high level of competition six days a week in practice and in games. This motivates me to play my best in games when it really counts. Also, Coach Mariano is a major part of why I am able to keep improving this season. She’s a coach that’s very supportive, but at the same time challenges me to try new moves and outsmart the opposing defense.
BB: What does a typical practice for a field hockey team consist of?
EO: I don’t think there’s ever a typical field hockey practice- it really depends on the team and the coach. For F&M field hockey we start out with a warm up jog and dynamic stretching. After we run through a few shooting drills to warm up the goalkeepers. The drills throughout practice reflect the things we need to work on for our upcoming opponents. We practice a lot of defensive marking in the circle and scenarios where the offense outnumbers the defense. At the end of practice we always scrimmage and practice penalty strokes.
BB: What advantages would you say field hockey has over soccer and lacrosse?
EO: Field Hockey is a game that essentially has no constraining limits on the field. In soccer the players are held back by the off-sides rule. Similarly, in lacrosse the restraining lines prevent players from moving fluidly throughout the field. In field hockey players have the freedom to go anywhere on the field at any time. Without off-sides and restraining lines field hockey is a sport that allows for constant creativity. The best plays come from the out of the ordinary cuts behind the defense or an entire team working together to clear the ball out of the defensive circle. These moments just aren’t possible in soccer and lacrosse.
BB: To switch to a more individual look at you, what are you majoring in?
EO: Spanish and American Studies.
BB: What is the one thing you would like people who aren’t familiar with you to know about you?
EO: Last spring I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain. As a Spanish major this was an awesome opportunity to improve my language abilities and truly immerse myself in a different culture. I lived with a host family, studied with professors from the University of Valencia, and even got to play some field hockey.
BB: Outside of sports, what is your greatest passion?
EO: My greatest passion outside of sports is candy, I have an intense sweet tooth!
BB: My blog keeps it on the light side. If you could tolerate a few oddball questions I’d like to throw a few at you. First off, what is the most laughably bad movie you’ve ever seen?
EO: Its hard to pick one…most recently I watched Hot Tub Time Machine. Parts of the movie were funny, but the whole idea was just bizarre.
BB: What is your favorite book?
EO: My all time favorite is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m currently hooked on Stieg Larsson’s trilogy series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc).
BB: If you were a singer what would you title your debut CD?
EO: The Alpha Shewolves. My teammates and I are very fond of Shakira’s song SheWolf.
BB: You express yourself very well. In closing, if you could suggest 1 thing to the NCAA and the NAIA to raise the profile of field hockey what would it be?
EO: Field Hockey is a tough sport to market because it lacks a partner sport ( such as softball- baseball) and in the United States it has not developed as a co-ed game. I think the NCAA and the NAIA can raise the profile of field hockey by promoting the international prominence of the sport. Worldwide, field hockey is an extremely popular sport for women and men. Similar to soccer, field hockey has a World Cup every four years. Field hockey is the highlight of the Summer Olympic games for many European nations. I think that by exposing the international popularity of the game the NCAA and the NAIA can attract more attention to field hockey in the US and gain fans.
With such eloquent and self-assured young women as Eileen O’Reilly participating in this sport Balladeer’s Blog feels it would be a natural for television audiences. Here’s hoping the unfortunately low profile on the sport gets raised in the near future.
To read Eileen O’Reilly telling me how she really feels about her official Balladeer’s Blog nickname click here: http://www.godiplomats.com/landing/index
Balladeer’s Blog is not affiliated with or operated by the NAIA or the NCAA or any of their member institutions.
© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.