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Wayland Student Press

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Wayland Student Press

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Erin Matson: Bringing field hockey and women’s sports to center stage

WSPNs+Chloe+Zilembo+gives+her+opinion+on+Erin+Matsons+impact+on+both+field+hockey+and+womens+sports.
Credit: Chloe Zilembo
WSPN’s Chloe Zilembo gives her opinion on Erin Matson’s impact on both field hockey and women’s sports.

Although field hockey is the third most popular sport in the world, it isn’t nearly as popular in the U.S.. Luckily, the American field hockey community has Erin Matson to thank for the recent positive exposure she has brought to both field hockey and women’s sports in general, especially after her recent achievements.

Erin Matson was a former University of North Carolina (UNC) field hockey player and the star of the team. She is often regarded as the “GOAT of field hockey” as she has accumulated many accolades over her time playing field hockey. She is a five-time Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Offensive Player of the Year, five time ACC Player of the Year, three-time Honda Sports Award winner, five-time ACC champion and four-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion. She was also the youngest player ever to join the U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team at 16 years old.

After her time on the UNC field hockey team as a player, she became the youngest NCAA coach in the history of the organization. She was 23 years old when she got the job as the head coach for UNC Field Hockey when Karen Shelton retired after 42 years of being in charge of the program. After getting the job, Matson led her team to both an ACC championship and a NCAA national championship title. She was the youngest person to do so.

Matson’s achievements have brought a lot of media attention to field hockey, which I especially appreciate as a field hockey player. Even though field hockey is a growing sport, the number of people who play field hockey is much smaller compared to the number of people who play more popular sports, like soccer or basketball. As of 2018, there were only 1.46 million people playing field hockey in the U.S..

It is important to note that field hockey is primarily played in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and hasn’t really taken off in other regions of the country. Hopefully Matson’s vast achievements and media attention bring necessary exposure to field hockey to grow the popularity of the game throughout the nation.

Now, not only is Matson bringing positive attention to field hockey, but also to women’s sports in general, as female athletes are often overlooked and under-appreciated around the world. Women’s sports aren’t nearly as prominent as men’s sports, as only 15% of sports media coverage is dedicated to covering them.

Recently, the ACC Network Instagram account posted for Matson’s achievements. This account is followed by hundreds of thousands of people, so all of Matson’s positive media attention will hopefully gain appreciation for women’s sports, especially field hockey, around the world.

However, the comments on the ACC Network’s post about Matson are unfortunately not that encouraging. Yes, there are many positive comments from both men and women, but the negative comments outweigh the positive ones. There are many comments saying that “women suck at sports” and “no one wants to see this.” A lot of the negative comments seem to be from men, which is interesting because outside of the U.S., field hockey is predominantly a men’s sport.

I think all of the negative comments about field hockey come from people who don’t know anything about the sport or just don’t like women’s sports in general. I hope that in the future people will appreciate field hockey and other women’s athletics. Let’s hope that Erin Matson can pioneer this positive movement towards women’s sports as a whole.

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About the Contributor
Chloe Zilembo, Copy Editor
Chloe Zilembo, Class of 2025, is a second year reporter for WSPN and a copy editor for sports and news. She plays field hockey and is on both the high school team and a club team. Outside of school she enjoys watching movies and sports. Contact: [email protected]
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