Katie Cressman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s no secret that the number 14 ranked Ursinus College Field Hockey team is wiping the floor with their opponents this year and currently sitting with a comfortable 11-4 record, but what is it exactly that’s at work behind the scenes to enable their success on the field? Led by an elite coaching staff of five assistant coaches and one head coach, Janelle Benner, along with 25 talented players, and assisted by the incredible backing of the Sports Medicine Clinic’s trainers, the team has major depth which promotes their consistent success. But, there is one more group of individuals who also have contributed to the success of UCFH this season, and that is the ball runners.
Ursinus College Field Hockey has had a group of ball runners consisting of different student athletes for decades. Within the last 10 years, however, there is one program that seemed to take over the job, the men’s lacrosse team. Jake Stackpole, a senior on the men’s lacrosse team and a UCFH ball runner explained how this tradition came to be. “From what I was told, a kid on the track team started it! He used to show up every game and do it all himself, sprinting up and down the sidelines and then somewhere down the line it got handed off to lacrosse. Now, there’s about five of us who do it,” said Jake.
So, what exactly is the job description of a ball runner? Well, according to Stackpole, it’s a whole combination of things! “We are required to be at all home field hockey games as game day workers. If a ball goes out of bounds, it is our job to replace it with a new one as soon as possible and chase the other. With the way field hockey works, if the ball goes out, as soon as it is placed on the line again they are free to go and don’t have to wait for a whistle. It’s a competitive advantage to have ball runners who can get those balls down fast.”
This competitive edge is not something the men’s lacrosse team shies away from, and they are actually reported to thrive in the atmosphere! Erik Ojert and Ben Sjosten, juniors on the men’s lacrosse team and UCFH ball runners, explain their game day mindset. Sjosten says, “Field hockey game days for me are full of energy and excitement from the first step I take on the field!” Ojert adds, “Game day is a fun day for our ball running squad. We always come up with a game day theme and discuss new goal celebrations. It’s also a little nerve racking, especially your first couple games. We don’t want to slow the game down.” Ojert highlights how even though they are not specifically members, they are an important addition to the team! Stackpole agreed with this saying, “It’s almost like we’re an extension of the team!”
This combination ultimately turned into a feel-good story about the two programs, which have since formed a great relationship. Stackpole explains, “They appreciate us, and we appreciate them, it helped us form an awesome bond between the two teams!” Emphasizing the takeaway from the experience he adds, “Let alone, it’s a huge way we get to give back to the athletic community in a way that allows us to also have a ton of fun. It’s a complete win- win.” Laura Rothschild, a junior on the field hockey team, highlights this appreciation saying, “They’re the best placers and chasers in the whole centennial conference!”
Head out to Snell Field to support your Ursinus College Field Hockey team as they wrap up their regular season or find them on instagram @URSINUS_FIELD_HOCKEY. The UCFH ball runners also have their own social media page. Follow them on instagram @UC_BALLRUNNING.