Pleasure Ridge Park made history on Tuesday night, but you wouldn’t know it from the result on the field.
The Panthers played their first field hockey game in school history, falling 3-1 to Seneca. Isabelle Martin scored the Panthers’ first and only goal on the night, but a goal nonetheless that signals the start of a new program.
According to PRP athletics director Nick Waddell, the inspiration behind starting the team was from three students, Jersey Duncan, Kalina Dungy and Trinity Wright, whom all played field hockey in middle school. The three asked Waddell if he would start a team this fall, which started the ball rolling.
“We want to create more opportunities for our girls at PRP and to try and increase the participation of girls in athletics, because our numbers are kind of low, so it was a perfect opportunity,” Waddell said. “They had about 15 girls show up (at the first meeting) and then they had another meeting and they had 30 show up and generated a phone list. They got me a coach and we had a discussion about field hockey and he was really passionate about it and really excited about starting a new sport and increasing participation.
“We started our practicing a couple of days a week and during registration we picked up five players and now we’re up to 22 players. We don’t have the skill right now to hit the ball and dribble it up the field but they seem like they’re having a great time playing, really enjoying it, and it’s a pleasant surprise. It’s exciting.”
The school hired Erik Novak to be its first field hockey coach, and put together a short nine game schedule for the first season. But down the road, Waddell believes that PRP can see success in field hockey at the same level of the local powers like Sacred Heart and Manual.
“We think if we can get to year three it will be a sustainable program and it will be a successful program,” Waddell said. “Not only will we have good numbers but we’ll have success on the field. Then we can offer girls the opp to go to college. It would be awesome to see PRP girls get college scholarships three-to-four years down the road. We’ve got great athletes at PRP that hadn’t played the sport before. You never know.”