During the 2019 Spring Semester, the Women’s Field Hockey team received an obscure email for a meeting with the Hendrix Athletic Director, Amy Weaver, and the Assistant Athletic Director, Thad McCracken. “The field hockey group chat blew up,” sophomore Sarah Morris said, “we all got there about five speculating what is happening.” There the team was told that their beloved sport was going to be cut from the Hendrix College Athletic Program. When asked about the reasoning behind this decision, Weaver said, “recruiting sufficient numbers for the sport of field hockey continued to be a challenge.” In addition to finding it difficult to recruit players for a sport not prevalent in Arkansas, extended amounts of class missed due to having to travel large distances to play both conference and non-conference games was cited as another factor in making this decision.
While Hendrix has informed the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) about this decision, no announcement has been made to the Hendrix Athletic Community or Hendrix Community at large. Despite understanding why the decision was made, senior Nadine Matena believes they should make an official announcement. By leaving students with the responsibility of informing their peers, teammates studying abroad, graduating teammates (who were excluded from the meeting), and many others, the administration sends a message that the impact of this decision was unimportant. Not only did the team miss out on the chance to know that the last game of the 2019 season would be the last game they would play, but the absence of an official announcement on behalf of the administration shows a lack of acknowledgement of the work that these players have put in, both on and off the field.
As a team comprised of out-of-state and international students (excluding one graduate student from Arkansas), Field Hockey had a significant influence on many players’ choosing Hendrix. “It was the reason I came to Hendrix,” said senior Sophie Mazzaro. Despite the majority of the team choosing not to return, those that did attributed the decision to logistic reasonings, such as the hoops one must go through to change visas as an international student, or they cited involvement in other sports teams. The decision to cut a team of predominantly out-of-state students coupled with the failure to provide administrative support and acknowledgement further highlights a sense of apathy on the part of those in decision-making positions, especially regarding students that went to great lengths to attend Hendrix to play the sport they love.
Field Hockey was a team loved and respected by many, not just on campus but also nationally. Hendrix was posed to host the 2021 NCAA Field Hockey Championship, which would have been the first national championship hosted in Arkansas for any sport. The team also spent the past year teaching field hockey in nearby elementary schools, helping to spread their sport into new areas. While the program will be missed, hopefully the seeds they planted in Arkansas will continue to grow.