Senior Derek Roberts carries the ball on his stick up the field before dodging an Arlington opponent on the 2022 Wayland Varsity field hockey senior night.
Senior Derek Roberts carries the ball on his stick up the field before dodging an Arlington opponent on the 2022 Wayland Varsity field hockey senior night.
Credit: Emma Zocco

The end of era: Wayland field hockey without boys for the 2023 season

In recent years, it has become a controversial tradition for boys to play on the Wayland field hockey team. However, for the first time since 2019, the team has no male players this year. Seeing the all-female team on the field has made some fans wonder whether the all-female team is due to no males being interested in playing the sport, or if they did not want to deal with the backlash that some of the boys on the team faced.

WBZ Boston covered the story back in 2019, when the field hockey team became co-ed for the first time. Though boys playing field hockey sport isn’t out of the ordinary in other countries, some parents didn’t enjoy the idea of watching their daughters play against a team with boys on it.

In the fall 2022 season, Wayland High School Class of 2023 graduates Derek Roberts and Ethan Brandaleone joined the team after the team captains asked if they would be interested.

“At first [playing on the field hockey team] was slightly intimidating, but everyone on the team seemed to be friendly so it was easier to get to know people as the season progressed,” Roberts said.

Though Roberts built up his skills on the turf throughout the season and built friendships with other players, there were still downsides he faced. He is one of the few boys in MetroWest who has played in recent years, and not everyone was welcoming of him and other boys who wanted to play.

“The worst part was obviously the [verbal negativity] I received from the other schools’ fan sections,” Roberts said.

Both Roberts and Brandaleone received criticism from people outside of Wayland both on and off the field, even after the season ended. Despite that, the two took these hateful words in stride and used it to motivate them to get better at the game.

“[The comments] were honestly kind of funny after a while,” Roberts said.

Through it all, Roberts continued to love the sport and does not regret his time on the field.

“I would absolutely recommend [playing field hockey] to everyone who has any interest in the sport,” Roberts said. “I feel like there should be more male representation because it’s fun for everyone.”

Although some previous male players recommend playing field hockey to other males, the team struggled to find boys to join the team this season. In the past, there have been at least two senior boys recruited for the team by the captains. Senior captain Hayley Shaw set out to find boys for the 2023 season, but ultimately could not find any male players to join the team.

“There were two senior boys who debated playing, but one ended up going to a private school and the other didn’t want to play without his friend,” Shaw said.

Although Shaw doesn’t see the presence of boys on the team as a necessity, it’s something that she has always found made the sport more inclusive and fun.

“I found that there was pressure to continue the tradition of having boys on the team,” Shaw said. “I still want [the tradition] to continue next year because it’s a fun one.”

Junior Cate Ellenbogen has been on the varsity field hockey team since her freshman year, and does not believe that the team dynamic changed too much without male players.

“The boys were just extra bodies,” Ellenbogen said.

Ellenbogen believes that the only change to the team is the comfort of underclassmen.

“[The boys on the team] were seniors so sometimes, as an underclassman, it felt intimidating,” Ellenbogen said. “Now that I’m a junior, if there were boys on the team, I wouldn’t be intimidated by them.”

Despite this, Ellenbogen hopes that the tradition continues in the future.

“I do want [the tradition to continue], because I think it adds a good element to the team,” Ellenbogen said. “The tradition also adds an element of surprise for the other team when we play them.”

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