Even the best need a rest

St. Paul's: Standout Christina Boarman enters her senior year rejuvenated after spending some time away from field hockey this summer.

High School Sports Field Hockey

September 02, 2005|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Christina Boarman took a little break from field hockey this summer.

For the first time since knee surgery claimed her freshman season, the St. Paul's senior did not play a game or attend an organized practice for more than a month before the Gators started preseason last week.

Instead, Boarman worked, visited colleges, spent time with her family and showed her pigs and sheep at the Howard County Fair.

"I love playing hockey, but I think sometimes you get a little overcharged," said Boarman, 17. "You need a little time in there to think about other things. I still did my skills in the basement and I worked out all the time, but I needed a break, time to do something different."

Early in the summer, the two-time All-Metro forward barely put her stick down.

Memorial Day weekend kicked off with a trip to the California Cup in Los Angeles with her Ocelots club team. Then came a week at Wake Forest camp and a week at Futures Developmental Invitational Camp at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. The first two weeks of July, she worked at goalie camps and then moved on to the National Futures Championships in Virginia Beach July 15-17.

That kind of whirlwind schedule often lasted all summer for the seven-year veteran of the U.S. Field Hockey Association's Futures program. She played at three Junior Olympics and spent four years on the U.S. Under-16 national team.

As one of the top young players in the nation, she has drawn attention from many colleges, including three-time defending NCAA champion Wake Forest.

St. Paul's coach Annie Morse liked Boarman's decision to take a break.

"It's easy to burn out and last summer she had a pretty packed schedule. I think she was home for five days," Morse said. "To give herself a chance to rejuvenate going into her senior year ... was a really smart decision."

Now, Boarman, the only returning player from last season's All-Metro first team, can hardly wait to help St. Paul's try to reclaim the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown it won in 2003.

"She came over to my house the night before preseason," said Gators teammate Rachel Cook, "and she was so excited to play hockey again. She has a real passion for the game and it's really contagious."

That passion grew from the moment she began playing field hockey at the Mater Amoris Montessori School in Ashton in Montgomery County.

Her first coach, John Kovach at Mater Amoris, noticed her natural flair with a hockey stick.

"Early on, she was a magician when playing against kids her age and older," said Kovach, who started the Ocelots club at Mater Amoris and has coached Boarman for 12 years.

Stickwork still sets her apart. She excels at maneuvering the ball through traffic, forcing fouls and taking a variety of shots.

"You're only allowed to use one side of the stick in field hockey, but it seems like she's using both sides because she can move her hands so quickly," said Cook, a senior defender who practices against Boarman.

For Kovach, one play stands out -- a reverse-stick chip shot from the left side to the far upper corner of the cage that Boarman nailed in the 2004 Junior Olympics final.

"She took the ball at speed with the defense on her with two minutes to go in the gold medal game and put it in virtually an unsavable spot. For her age group, it was a world-class shot," said Kovach, an assistant coach at Towson University.

Adjusting her game from the speed and skill level of her club team to the high school level has not been easy.

"My hardest transition is playing on grass, because I'm so used to playing on turf," Boarman said.

Not only is the game slower, but she can't take a big backswing or be as aggressive without often drawing a whistle. Because players are closer together on grass than on the faster artificial surface, her game can intimidate opponents and intimidation is grounds for a foul on the high school level.

It helps to have more than just a trick stick.

"She just has a mental grasp of the game," Morse said. "Her ability to anticipate the play and see the field and draw fouls and know how to work off the other team is something that I haven't really ever seen at this level."

Opposing A Conference coaches have to design a defensive strategy with her in mind.

"We're all anxiously awaiting her graduation," said Archbishop Spalding coach Leslee Brady with a laugh. "You have kids who work hard but some of it, with her, has got to be innate talent."

Boarman aims to play on the Olympic team, but to pave the way she needs to have a strong college career. She plans to decide soon and has whittled her list to Wake Forest, Towson, James Madison, Boston College and William & Mary.

The choice won't be easy. While Boarman is drawn to the top-notch hockey at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., she's reluctant to go far from home.

The middle child in a close family with two brothers, she likes spending time on the family farm, caring for the horses, sheep and pigs and working at the family-owned Boarman's Meat Market in Highland in western Howard County.

"I could play hockey anywhere. It's not about hockey, it's about the school," Boarman said, "but I don't know if I want to go all the way down to North Carolina if my mom can't come to my games. We've got some tough decisions to make."

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