Argentinean student faces different sports culture

Senior adjusts to culture with less of an emphasis on field hockey in America

It came as a shock to senior Cata Faerman that one of the most popular sports of her native Argentina was absent at Palo Alto High School. Faerman had been a field hockey player for eight years in Argentina, but struggled to find a team when she arrived at the United States in Dec. 2011.

“I knew that field hockey wasn’t the most popular sport, but I was so surprised that there wasn’t a team at Paly,” Faerman said. “In Argentina, girls have compulsory field hockey in gym class. That’s how it is: boys play soccer or rugby, and girls play field hockey.”

Faerman started playing field hockey at age seven when she joined a club team called River Plate. Although she also swam for many years, Faerman had to choose one sport to further pursue, as both became increasingly competitive.

“I chose field hockey because it is a team sport,” Faerman said. “It is a very exciting and fun game.”

When she moved to the United States, she was curious to discover why Paly does not offer field hockey.

“I heard that [Paly] used to have [a field hockey team a few years ago],” Faerman said. “I talked to [Athletic Director Earl] Hansen, and he said that the reason why they stopped having a field hockey team was because they used the lacrosse field and it used to get really messed up when it rained. They had to cancel a lot of games through the season and it just didn’t work.”

Faerman noticed many differences between the club teams in the United States and the ones found in Argentina.

“Argentina was a very competitive environment,” she said. “We were all from different parts of the Buenos Aires Province, and sometimes it was hard to understand each other because we lived such different realities. My parents always drove me to the games, while some girls had to wake up at 5 a.m. [and] take multiple buses to get to the game at 11 a.m. [On the Bay Area club team], everyone was fairly similar in terms of lifestyle and I knew I was just trying to have fun.”

Though many people claim that lacrosse is similar to field hockey, Faerman disagrees.

“When I came here, I asked about [field hockey, but] everyone was like, ‘well, we have a lacrosse team!’” Faerman said. “[Field hockey and lacrosse are] definitely not the same thing. The balls are not supposed to be in the air [in field hockey]; you’re not supposed to catch them and we don’t have as many pads.”

Faerman believes that the lack of a Paly field hockey team has contributed to less participation in the sport in Palo Alto.

“[People don’t] know about the game, so they can’t just go out looking for teams,” she said. “There’s not much advertisement. You really need to go out and look for it, and since [people] don’t really know about the game, they don’t know where to start —  it’s like a cycle.”

Faerman says the game has taught her many lessons that she can now incorporate both on and off the field every day.

“[I have learned] patience, anger management, respect [and] how to be a good teammate,” Faerman said. “That’s not something you just know how to do, and that’s something that is going to be useful in other environments.”

Though Faerman is not attempting to be recruited for a college team, she hopes to continue playing the game at the club level after high school.

“For my college list, I made sure field hockey was part of [each school],” Faerman said. “I would love to [be recruited to play], but I don’t think it is going to happen.”

Faerman encourages students at Paly to consider taking up field hockey as a sport to try and strengthen its prevalence in America.

“I don’t think there is another sport similar in any way to field hockey,” she said. “Imagine if the West Coast had good teams — [we could have a] West Coast-East Coast rivalry.”

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