Islander will get taste of Olympics
Meghann Maguire will have a thrill later this month when she’ll be standing on the grounds of the U.S. national field hockey team’s training center. On Saturday, June 23, the Lawn Avenue School student will be alongside the country’s elite young players when the U.S. Olympic team is announced on NBC television.
The seventh-grader is not an Olympian yet, but she’s on the right track. She is a member of Team USA’s Futures program, which selects the nation’s top players and puts them on the track to the top.
Meghann, the daughter of Mark and Julie Maguire, may be only 13, but she has been handling a field hockey stick for half her lifetime. She started playing when she was in second grade, after accompanying her mother to matches. Her mom has been head coach of the North Kingstown High School field hockey team for 23 years. Meghann wanted to play after watching the competitions.
“We got to watch them,” she said, “and I met all the players.”
Meghann played on the North Kingstown rec team, and she also went out for a club team, Lead the Way, which draws on players from Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts.
Now Meghann is branching out. Last month she tried out for the Northeast Regional Championship team at the University of New Hampshire and made the cut. It was her second try. She was only 12 last year, and fell short of competing in the under-14 division. A hundred players tried out, and only 12 made the team. Next week she will travel to Virginia Beach to compete when the team advances to the 2012 National Futures Championship.
It’s her first field hockey trip outside of New England, Meghann said, and the whole family is going. Her mom said the other children and their grandparents will visit Williamsburg, and they’ll all see the sites in Washington, D.C., on the way home.
Meghann only laughed when asked if she’d like to play someday in the Olympics. She’s already on the first rung of the ladder. Meghann is the only Jamestowner in the Futures program, although he mother does expect more islanders to qualify for Futures next year.
“In sixth grade I tried out for the skills test and I got into Futures,” Meghann said.
The skills test is stick work. According to her mom, Meghann has an advantage because she is lefthanded.
Meghann is 5 feet 4 inches tall, and she weighs 90 pounds. Although she’s little, she’s crafty. Meghann likes to intercept the ball from the opponents. She also likes to try strategy moves like hitting the ball into the other player’s foot, which causes a turnover.
“You can deliberately hit the ball into their feet, so they lose the ball,” Meghann said. The device has a parallel in basketball when a player going out of bounds opts to bounce the ball off the opponent to keep possession.
“I like how you can do different moves,” she said. “I try to intercept and read the plays the other teams do.” She usually plays midfield or forward, and she does some scor- ing but has a lot of assists.
“She’s very unselfish,” her mom said.
Meghann also plays basketball and competes in track and crosscountry. She’s a point guard in basketball and does the same basic job of stealing and “distributing” the ball to her teammates as she does in field hockey. She also specializes in the 800-meter and 1500-meter runs in track. She does some sprinting and some distance running.
Obviously, it was Meghann’s mother who taught her the game of field hockey. Julie Maguire, who played Division I field hockey in college, took up the game as a student at North Kingstown High School.
She said that in the early 1980s, the options for female athletics boiled down to tennis, field hockey and cross-country. She wanted to play a team sport, so she picked field hockey. She went on to play at the University of Rhode Island, which has since scuttled the field hockey program. Following graduation, she returned to NKHS, this time as a coach.
Julie Maguire thinks Meghann has great court sense, an awareness of her location in relation to the ball, the goal and the other players. She said it’s one of the skills that can’t be taught.
“I actually think that’s one of the reasons why she was chosen,” she said. “She never stops moving.
She sees more of the field than most and she’s always cutting.”
The best thing about field hockey, according to Meghann, is making new friends.
“I like working with my teammates and making new friendships,” she said, “and I like the strategy.”
In Virginia Beach, Meghann will compete for three days. She’ll be assigned to a new team and will meet the players at the event. The Futures players will also be in the live audience for the field hockey contest between the United States and Argentina.
Academically, she is an honor student at Lawn Avenue School who enjoys math and reading science fiction.