The Girls of Clearview High Are Back on the Field
From the half-time crowds at Clearview High to the Saturday night lights of the high school football field, the girls of Clearview have been a part of the community for many years. It’s been an extraordinary journey, from the time the first girls from the Clearview High School ‘Clearviewettes’ walked onto the field in the mid-1980s, to the present day, where six senior girls—Julia, Katie, Emily, Kaitlyn, Naomi, and Sarah—are poised to end their sporting careers on a high note.
In 2002, a group of girls from Clearview High School in Columbus, Ohio, designed a homecoming float that would be a statement against honor killings, or the murder of a female relative for bringing dishonor to the family. Their float original featured a cross with a clear glass dome on top, with a photo of a Pakistani woman named Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who was murdered by her brothers in Pakistan after becoming pregnant.
If competitiveness, camaraderie, and shared purpose are the driving spirits of high school athletics, the 2020-21 school year presented difficulties to all of them. Coaches, accustomed to the physical camaraderie of the locker room or the huddle, found themselves canceling sessions, posting workouts online, and doing their best to send encouraging emails to their players. Close-knit teams, accustomed to the physical camaraderie of the locker room or the huddle, had to keep their distance socially. Seasons have been canceled in certain instances.
These setbacks wreaked havoc on many teams, but they were especially frustrating for those coming off breakout seasons the year before. This was the case with the Mullica Hill, New Jersey-based Clearview Regional High School girls’ field hockey team. Coach Britney Ewan, a former midfielder at Millville High School, about 30 minutes south of Mullica Hill, led them to a state title in 2019, completing more than a decade of development. The program’s records had been hovering around.500 in previous years until Ewan (bottom center) took control in 2006. Ewan, on the other hand, got to work putting up a competitive squad. Jaclyn Guth, who had previously played for Ewan, was appointed as an assistant coach in 2012. “We were pretty old-school beforehand,” Guth adds. “Everything was redesigned by Britney: how you hit the ball, pass the ball, line up on the pitch, and collaborate with your teammates.”
By 2017, Ewan and Guth had guided the squad to the school’s first sectional championship in field hockey. After winning the state title two years later, Ewan was named Coach of the Year and given a celebration ride around town by the local fire department.
Then there was 2020, an unforgiving foe who faced reigning high school state champions throughout the nation. Clearview was able to make it through most of the season — “I always maintained that every day we had a stick in our hands is a good day,” Ewan recalls — overcoming setbacks, injuries, and Covid worries to return to the playoffs. However, the sectional championship game was canceled in November, and the 2020 season was cut short.
The squad reassembled nine months later, in mid-August, for another championship drive. It all started with tryouts. The players seemed apprehensive, but yet relieved, to see an old routine reappear. The sight and sound of field-hockey balls pouring from a big cooler might be interpreted as a hopeful call to action as the exercises began after a mile-long warm-up run around the field.
‘Being that young and being able to watch that game and see how they’ve been performing the previous few years has been wonderful for me,’ says my sister, who was a senior for the 2019 squad that won the state title.
– Ninth-grader Mia Clerval
Coach Ewan provides her players a lengthy handout with team rules and expectations, as well as information on the recruitment process for those who want to play in college, before the start of each season. “Loyalty implies that I share a similar goal with you and that, despite of small disagreements, we work for it shoulder to shoulder, confident in one another’s good faith, trust, constancy, and affection,” according to a statement credited to psychiatrist Karl Menninger on the main page.
Ryan Remaly and Darian DeLeo, both freshman during Clearview’s title-winning 2019 season, are two returning standouts. The school’s varsity and junior-varsity teams practiced separately last year due to Covid-19 safety regulations, which harmed the program’s cohesiveness and continuity.
“It was certainly difficult,” DeLeo says. The social-distance constraints were a pain to deal with. DeLeo adds, “We weren’t permitted to do anything together that would help us, like team bonding.” “It strengthens the squad tremendously. It helps everything fall into place.”
It was tough for several players to stay motivated throughout the epidemic. “It was difficult to recall my passion for field hockey going into the season,” Anna Bruno admits. Covid’s regular preparations, which included playing for her club team and attending university-sponsored clinics, were turned upside down. Bruno was re-inspired when her teammates voted her varsity captain, a position usually reserved for seniors. “We had a lot of pressure on ourselves coming off a state championship,” she recalls. “So my aim was to keep things lighthearted and enjoyable.”
Destiny Joseph, a sophomore who played on the junior varsity team last year and was an admiring eighth grader when Clearview won the state championship, was one of the younger players that grabbed Ewan’s attention. Joseph claims that the lonely aspect of the lockdowns made it apparent to her how much she wanted to succeed in field hockey and be a member of a championship team.
Dina Litovsky is a New York-based photographer who contributes regularly to The New York Times Magazine.
We recently wrote about the controversial decision by the Washington State Catholic Conference not to allow girls to join the boys’ sports teams. The fight has been going on for years, but has recently picked up steam as the girls’ high school football season gets underway.. Read more about clearview high school car accident and let us know what you think.
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