Wednesday, November 20, 2013
All's perfect for Lancaster, Skowhegan field hockey
By Matt DiFilippo
What is it like to go through your entire high school career and never lose a game? Skowhegan’s Allison Lancaster can answer that.
During her four years playing field hockey for the Indians, Skowhegan finished 76-0, winning four state championships. The 76 straight wins for the Indians are also a state record. Lancaster finished this season with 19 goals and 25 assists this season as a center midfielder, and is one of three finalists for the Miss Maine Field Hockey Award, given annually to the top senior player in the state. Lancaster plans to play at Providence College next fall.
Q: You said after the state game that your teammates have changed your life forever. How so?
A: “I not only do I consider the girls I play with to be my teammates but they are also my sisters. Being on a team is an experience very few people get to appreciate. I firmly believe that for any team to be successful, there is a certain bond that has to be established between teammates and between players and coaches. A strong connection will allow a player to be confident in their play; about when and where to pass the ball and how to react in any situation. This confidence and friendship even extends to life off of the field. Having played with these girls, and having devoting so much time being around them, we have really become a closely knit family. There isn’t a girl on my team that hasn’t completely earned my trust.
“It took a lot of time and effort to achieve this relationship between everybody on the team, though. If an outsider could have seen the team during the beginning of our off-season in comparison to our team now, they would have thought we were a completely different team. Going through this bond building process, though, and knowing that every step of the way these girls have your back no matter what, it just really changes you. I wouldn’t trade anyone of them for the world. I love them all. That is why we are such great friends that make up such an amazing team.”
Q: It seemed like you played in a lot of pain this season. Talk about some of your injuries.
A: “I definitely had one of my most injury-prone seasons this year. As my mom put it, ‘Allison, you are so focused on the game that you are unaware of the dangerous situations in which you put your body.’ I clearly have a one-track mind when it comes to field hockey – win. So, when I get the chance to fulfill the role of my position, be it defense or offense, I take it. The kind of athlete I am allows me to make the game-changing plays, but also unfortunately causes a few bumps and bruises along the way. That’s just the nature of the game, though.
”This year I had a few nagging issues with my ankles due to the quick shift in weight that happens when I change direction. For my senior homecoming, I had to attend the festivities in flats and an ankle brace that made it pretty difficult to dance! Another injury occurred during our Mt. Blue game, where I somehow managed to dislocate my knee-cap when I caught an opponent’s field hockey stick between the legs. However, I managed to push my cartilage back into place in a few minutes and continued to play. That was an interesting one to try and explain to my coach. I cartwheeled over players in our game against Oxford Hills and busted open my chin. That was one of my finer moments. I would have liked to see it on film because I’m sure I could have aired on the hit TV show ‘Wipeout.’ Then you have the typical swollen and bleeding fingers and toes but hey, that’s par for the course in the game of field hockey. Overall though, our trainer, Tyler, could rehabilitate most of my injuries. Thanks to him, I barely missed any game play.”
Q: Your team never lost a game in all four years of your high school career. Between that and the Skowhegan field hockey tradition, did you feel like there was a lot of pressure on the team this season?
A: “Starting off, a lot of teams underestimated our capabilities, and I actually think it worked out in our favor. Yes, we lost almost all of our starters, and consequently we had to rebuild our team from scratch. However, I had the utmost confidence in our team and coaching staff. We proved every game to our fans, detractors and most importantly to ourselves that we could look adversity in the eye and overcome it. It would just take a lot of hard work and dedication. I personally put a lot of pressure on myself to be a role model as a captain, to make sure I gave everything I was capable of in every game we played. I think a lot of the girls followed suit and did the same. As a team we never went into a game knowing a hundred percent that we had it in the bag, which, quite honestly, was a very different perspective from years past. We took it one game at a time and focused on the improvements we needed to make for the next game. We motivated ourselves to train hard and play hard, that’s how we ended up as the 2013 State Champions. Having never lost a game in four years is an indescribable feeling. I am so proud of our accomplishments.”
Q: What has kept you playing field hockey for so long?
A: “It’s the anxious feeling you get when you walk out to the turf with your gear. It’s the adrenaline that pumps through your body as you’re waiting for the first whistle of the game. It’s the excitement after the first goal. It’s the chemistry between the stick and the ball, the ball and the player, the player and her teammates. I’ve played field hockey year-round since fourth grade, and I’ve never felt any happier than with a stick in my hand. There is a quote out there by Mia Hamm that really resonates with me: ‘Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back... play for her.’ This couldn’t be truer; I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with the game of field hockey. People have asked me whether or not I would give up all the long hours I’ve spent practicing in exchange for a ‘normal teenage life.’ My response: field hockey is my life.”
Q:Your coach, Paula Doughty, has won 12 state titles in the last 13 years. What are some of the things that make her such a successful coach?
A: “Coach Doughty and I have always had a special relationship. When I was a little girl watching my older sister play for her, I used to sneak away from my mom and run across the field to rendezvous with her! She was the first person who encouraged me to pick up a stick. She is strong, smart, independent, and cares so much about her team on and off of the field. There isn’t a girl that has played for her that doesn’t view her as a role model. She knows the game of field hockey like the back of her hand and she has proven that over and over again. She stands by the statement, ‘Basics is what wins State Championships…that along with your head and your heart.’
“The fact that she has won 12 state titles doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of her ability to coach. Yes, these statistics are generally the facts people acknowledge, but she does so much more than just win these key games. She inspires young girls to trust, take chances, ignore those who don’t believe in them, stand up for what they believe, listen the views of others, and most importantly, to work hard for what they want. This is what makes her such a successful coach. This is why we love her, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her.”
Q: How did you react when you found out you were one of the three Miss Maine Field Hockey finalists? Are you nervous/excited about how that’s going to turn out?
A: “I felt very honored when I found out that I was even being considered as a candidate for Miss Maine. I've grown up playing with so many talented Maine field hockey teammates, in indoor leagues, on club teams and on my own high school team, that I am truly thankful to be given this opportunity to be in the running for this award! I am flattered that my hard work and dedication to the sport is being recognized at the state level. However, I am not nervous about the outcome; I am very proud of my efforts, as well as the efforts of my teammates. Winning the State Championship was so important to me, since field hockey is the furthest from an individualized sport - you need teamwork to make the dream work!”
Q:What made you decide to attend Providence?
A: “Providence was a wonderful fit for me, both athletically and academically. I am very excited to play at the Division 1 level. I know that Coach [Diane] Madl has so much to teach me about the sport, and I am eagerly anticipating my growth as a collegiate athlete. I also loved the Friars’ focus on teamwork, making it an easy transition from Skowhegan to Providence in that sense. I cannot wait to become a part of the Providence field hockey team. Academically, Providence was also a wise move for me. Like any other student still young in their schooling career, I'm not entirely sure what the future holds for me. I want to be and do so many things: biology, business, ecology, and mathematics. I know that the dedication that Providence has towards helping their students discover their academic passions will encourage me towards the right scholastic and future occupational goals.”