After switch, Bhanot has a field day

Field hockey: Rashmi Bhanot gave up soccer to take up field hockey, and she and her Long Reach teammates are glad she did.

Field hockey

High Schools

October 25, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Rashmi Bhanot of Long Reach says she misses soccer sometimes, but that it is not a sport she is likely to play again.

After her freshman year, Bhanot gave up soccer for field hockey, an unusual shift, yet one that has left the Lightning junior delighted with her decision.

Had she not shifted, she would not have experienced the joy of playing in a state championship game last fall.

The Lightning (12-2 overall, 8-1 league), again hopeful of returning to the state finals, lost that state title game. The road back begins today with the Lightning playing host to Linganore at 3:30.

Had she not shifted, she would not have experienced the joy of winning a county championship - accomplished this season.

And had she not shifted, she would not have led her sport in scoring - as she did this season with 13 goals and eight assists.

A year ago, in her first season of field hockey, she scored 12 goals and had four assists while starting every game.

"I've never had a soccer player switch to field hockey before," said coach Kelly Snyder, who is accustomed to working with athletes with no prior field hockey experience.

"She's done exceptionally well, and understands the passing game, which she learned from soccer since the two sports are so much alike. She has tremendous field sense."

Bhanot plays right wing, the same basic position she played in soccer. Her job is to carry the ball forward, take it wide and then cross it, setting up other players to score.

Her speed and quickness down the sidelines make her an especially dangerous player.

"And she's strong for her size," Snyder said. Bhanot is only 5 feet 2.

Bhanot went to several field hockey camps before making the switch. There she learned stick skills and rules.

"The rules were hard to pick up because [the refs] are always blowing a whistle," she said. "But the hardest part was making the mental adjustment. I wanted a new experience because I had been playing soccer since I was 6. And Long Reach has a good field hockey program."

The bruises caused by being hit by sticks and the hard bouncing ball took some getting used to. Unlike soccer, field hockey players must wear a mouth guard for protection. Both sports demand the use of shin guards.

She thinks that soccer is a much more physical sport, however. Physical contact is not allowed in field hockey as it is in soccer.

Bhanot comes from an athletic family. Her twin brother, Rahul, plays soccer for Long Reach. And her older brother, Kapil, wrestled for Howard High.

"I just love to play sports," she said. "My twin brother got me started in soccer."

Rashmi also plays lacrosse for Long Reach, but that program has not yet achieved the success of the field hockey program.

She already has experienced some celebrity by playing field hockey. Earlier this season she was chosen as Athlete of the Week by Keith Mills of WMAR-TV and made her television debut.

One moment in her sports career stands out above the rest.

"Playing in the state finals was the most thrilling moment," said the Baltimore-born Bhanot, who carries a 4.0 GPA, takes a gifted-and-talented physics course, works on the school yearbook and is doing an independent research project on the history of Columbia.

She's hoping to repeat last season's playoff excitement with just one change - the end result.

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