Sports Person of the Week
Haskins Proves a Sweeping Success on Defense
Senior Caroline Haskins progressed into a staunch defender throughout her career as a member of the Valley Regional field hockey team. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Haskins)
With her twin sister Grace already playing field hockey, Caroline Haskins decided to give the sport a try as a freshman at Valley Regional High School. Caroline went on to enjoy a solid four-year career with the Warriors that saw her make constant progress and become a starter on defense as a junior last fall.
Caroline recently completed her senior season with the Valley field hockey team. Caroline helped the Warriors put together an excellent campaign that saw the team post a record of 17-2-1 and reach the final of the Shoreline Conference Tournament.
Caroline’s first experience with field hockey came in 8th grade, when she participated in a clinic through the Tsunami Field Hockey program in Westbrook. Caroline had been riding horses for several years, but wanted to compete in a team sport. After watching Grace play field hockey and seeing how much she enjoyed it, Caroline decided to join her on the field.
“She seemed to really like it, so I naturally wanted to do it. I picked it up as well and fell in love with it,” says Caroline. “It was really special. We never played any of the same sports before. We got to play four years of field hockey together. Valley field hockey is such a bonded team. It was nice to have my sister with me.”
Caroline played for Valley’s JV team as a freshman, getting a lot of help from JV Head Coach and varsity assistant Randy Netsch in order to get up to speed with the game. Caroline says that all of Valley’s older athletes welcomed her with open arms as she hit the ground running with determination to become a better field hockey player.
“Field hockey could sometimes be a frustrating sport when you first start it. My freshman year, I had such a great experience. I loved the seniors, and all of the upperclassmen were really supportive,” says Caroline. “My sister played and so did a lot of my other friends. The team environment was great and me want to learn more and get better.”
Caroline was promoted to the varsity level in her sophomore season, but was still not a member of Valley’s starting lineup. Caroline and her sister were both determined to become varsity starters and worked hard throughout the subsequent offseason. Heading into her junior campaign, Caroline became the Warriors’ starting varsity sweeper on defense.
“My sister and I worked really hard all summer. We were both determined to make varsity. It was something I was proud of,” Caroline says. “Playing on varsity, with people who were better than me, made me a better player.”
While she had played defense in the past, Caroline’s junior year marked the first time that she suited up as a sweeper. As soon as she made the switch, Caroline knew that she had found her home on the field and went on to play sweeper for the next two seasons.
“I have a very defensive mindset. That’s just where I fit into the lineup and where they saw me. Once I started playing it, it just became my position, and I didn’t want to play anything else,” says Caroline. “It’s what I became good at and was practicing. That’s where I like to play. It naturally came over time.”
Since she was a kid, Caroline’s mindset has always been to do things 100 percent in both sports and life. Caroline brought that same attitude to the Valley field hockey team. Throughout her career with the program, Caroline went from someone who had no experience in the sport to become one of the most vocal players on the Warriors’ roster.
“Freshman year I was definitely a lot more timid. It comes with being a freshman. I didn’t know how to do a lot of things. I didn’t know the rules. But I was determined to learn. I asked a lot of questions and tried my hardest,” Caroline says. “Now, I’m one of the most vocal people on the field. You gain confidence the more you play. Communication is one of the most important things in field hockey. It was the biggest growth that I’ve had.”
Head Coach Beth McCabe Powers saw Caroline come out of her shell as the defender improved her field hockey skills during her tenure at Valley. McCabe Powers says that Caroline became a force for the Warriors by playing stifling defense and communicating well with her teammates.
“Caroline has provided stellar defense for us all season. Her excellent communication skills, paired with her footwork and stick skills, have been a big part of our success this season and our shutouts that we accomplished,” says McCabe Powers. “Her vocal leadership on the field brings a calming force to the defense. Caroline will be missed next season, however, her willingness to teach the upcoming players makes me sure that the team will be prepared.”
After graduation, Caroline plans on attending a college in New England in order to pursue a degree in Russian, Spanish, and/or international relations. She also plans to continue playing field hockey at the club level in college.
When she started playing field hockey, Caroline was looking for a sport that featured a strong team dynamic. Caroline found what she wanted at Valley and appreciates how her teammates helped her adapt to a new sport and become the best version of herself both on and off the field.
“It means a lot to me. The group of people in Valley field hockey have become some of my best friends. We’ve had the same defensive lineup for the past two years. We have all gotten so close,” says Caroline. “I just appreciate my team so much. Field hockey has been one of the best experiences in my high school career.”