‘Today is our big day’: Dartmouth Girls Athletic League opens field hockey season
Sunday, Sept. 10 was a “big day” for the Dartmouth Girls Athletic League field hockey program, said the organization’s co-commissioner Nicole Mello.
Behind Quinn Elementary School, three fields were filled with girls of all ages playing and practicing field hockey on the league’s opening day.
Dartmouth Girls Athletic League field hockey is a local recreational league aimed at getting kids involved in “the best sport on the planet,” as co-commissioner Courtney Cohen calls it.
Mello and Cohen have been running the field hockey league since 2018, taking over from Sherri Tetrault who created the league around 2010.
In recent years, Mello and Cohen have been making the league “bigger and better,” expanding it to include approximately 119 girls from Dartmouth and surrounding towns.
The program has “definitely progressed in its time,” said Mello. “It’s definitely growing.”
But Mello and Cohen haven’t let growth and progress get in the way of fun.
“We’re all about camaraderie,” said Mello.
“We played sports our whole life,” she said. “It’s a great way to meet other people, it’s a great way to not be in your technology. We want to make sure that everybody gets fair playing time.”
On opening day, five teams of pee-wee players, who are in kindergarten through second grade, faced off against each other. Five teams of junior players — third grade through fifth grade — and five teams of seniors — sixth grade through eighth grade — also played.
“We’re making sure everybody’s enjoying the sport, that way when they go to high school they continue to play,” said Mello. “We’re a huge feeder program for [Dartmouth High School].”
And current Dartmouth High School field hockey players returned the favor.
“Right now, Dartmouth High School field hockey girls are running the concession,” said Mello. “Those are all girls who played for me.”
Dartmouth High School senior and field hockey player Samantha Souza, 18, was working at the concession stand during opening day. She started playing field hockey with the Dartmouth Girls Athletic League when she was in third grade.
“It’s great to see the new generation of field hockey players come up,” said Souza. “Everybody’s having fun, that’s what we like to see.”
Fellow Dartmouth High School field hockey player Kallie Rose, 17, volunteered her time as a coach for the Dartmouth Girls Athletic League.
“Being able to help younger girls in a sport that I enjoy so much is honestly so cool,” she said, adding that playing for the league as an eighth grader “prepared” her to play in high school.
“I loved playing here, it was so much fun and I wish that I started earlier,” said Rose.
For Mello, support from former players and from the Dartmouth community is what makes the league “a special thing.”
“We try to make sure we give back to the community and they give back to us,” said Mello. “It’s like a circle of life.”