Having played field hockey for four years in Kenya, post graduate Robert Muni ’16 decided to keep pursuing his love for the sport by playing on the girls varsity field hockey team this past fall.
Although Muni originally signed up to play soccer, he felt an increasing yearning to play field hockey, especially after seeing Deerfield’s turf. Muni recounted a conversation with defender Emily Yue ’16, who “jokingly asked [him] to come down to practice,” so he “decided to go check it out.” After talking to coaches McVaugh and McDonald, Muni joined daily practices.
Even though Kenya placed a great emphasis on sports such as track & field and cross country, Muni’s previous school had a strong field hockey program with a boys team that played in national championships.
Upon joining the Deerfield team, Muni changed position. Back in Kenya, he solely played forward, but at DA, he mostly played defense. “My former coach believed in specializing in your area. I had played forward for all of my four years of experience, so when I was positioned to be in defense, I had to learn to adjust and be better in things such as communicating with the goalkeeper,” Muni said.
Another difference was the change in the level of aggressiveness while playing at DA. Muni explained that field hockey at home was “pretty rough and very dangerous.” In his league in Kenya, the rules focused more on the safety of the players. “I like it much better here, because back at home, I would have to keep looking out for myself, instead of focusing on playing well,” Muni said.
Despite all the differences, Muni thoroughly enjoyed his time on the team. He was shocked that it did not feel strange for him to play as a male on a girls team and was especially happy about the tight-knit relationships everyone had with each other.
“I love the closeness of the team. Everyone has each other’s backs, and I can’t say the same about my team back home. It actually felt fun to play field hockey; it wasn’t only about the competition,” Robert said. Maia Taylor ’16 added that Muni “brought a new spark to the field. He is so goal hungry that it made us want to defend harder and run faster.”
After being used to having boys and girls field hockey teams back home, Muni reflected that there should be both teams here at Deerfield as well. “I was shocked when I was looking at the website over the summer to see that there is only a girls team here at DA. They should create a boys field hockey team in the future.”