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Will Beverina | email@example.com
When the Radford University field hockey program officially disbanded after its 2013 season, Emily Hoke faced an early end to her collegiate athletic career.
Due to budget restrictions in the athletic department; field hockey, along with swimming and diving, and men’s track and field, were dissolved as official sports programs.
A sophomore defender for the field hockey team when it was cut, Hoke played club field hockey for a year, but was not entirely satisfied.
“I enjoyed it, but I missed that competitiveness that Division I has,” Hoke told The Tartan.
Her solution? Learn a new sport. To make up for the cut programs, Radford announced that it would be forming a women’s lacrosse team to begin competing in the 2016 season. That is where Hoke saw an opportunity.
“I had never played lacrosse before,” she explained. “My dad knew a guy who was a lacrosse coach who said he could teach me. I literally learned how to play over spring break of my junior year.”
From there, Hoke contacted lacrosse head coach Haley Marvine about joining the team. A new program would mean a squad filled with freshmen, but Hoke embraced the thought of leading a group of young and talented players.
“I loved the idea of having the potential to develop the team dynamic,” she said.
Fast forward to over a year after she learned to play the game, and Hoke is a team captain and one of the undisputed leaders of Radford’s newest program. She is also a starter, anchoring the back line in her old field hockey position of defense. Hoke’s plans of helping the team move forward in their first season have come to fruition, and with a rough start to their inaugural campaign, Hoke’s leadership is even more crucial.
“Our team in general tries to focus on the positives rather than the negatives,” said Hoke, “So I try to keep everyone positive and encourage them. It’s definitely hard at times since most of them are freshmen and they can get down on themselves pretty quickly. But it’s been pretty sweet. I’m kind of like the team mom.”
Being the “mom” of 15 freshmen is hard. The sheer amount of young players on the team presents challenges on and off the field.
“They’re very rambunctious sometimes. I think containing that and taking it from off the field and onto the field has been kind of difficult. I mean, off the field the team dynamic is so different from anything I’ve ever seen, which is awesome because we’re so close-knit. But we’re still trying to put it all together on the field.”
Hoke is still high on the team’s future. When asked what the team can accomplish within five years, she responded resoundingly with, “Win a championship.”
By the time that happens, Hoke will have graduated from both Radford and Ohio University, where she will begin to study physical therapy for graduate school in May. She hopes to work in an outpatient clinic with athletes, and help them with their injuries and rehabilitation.
“I love sports but I know I can’t play forever,” said Hoke. “So I want to help athletes and get them to where they want to be.”
The Radford women’s lacrosse team is currently on a two-game road trip against Big South conference foes Longwood and High Point. You can catch Hoke and the rest of the team in their next home game on April 20 against Liberty at 4 p.m, and in their season finale at Cupp Stadium on April 23 versus Coastal Carolina at 12 p.m.