“We have a good mix of talented young players and returning leaders,” she said. “We have a good team dynamic this year. I think we can do it again this year.”
The club field hockey team is co-ed and features both students and community members. The team encourages anyone who is interested, regardless of experience, to attend a practice at Hooker Fields on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-7 p.m..
First-year Will Rogers said he was looking for a new sport to try his first semester at Carolina. He didn't have any field hockey experience, but he visited the team’s table at Fall Fest and decided to give it a try. Now, he’s found his niche.
“I definitely think I’ll play all four years,” Rogers said. “Hopefully by then I’ll be able to learn what all the penalties mean.”
Rogers is not alone on the team in that regard — it takes a while to develop a good understanding of the rules in field hockey, and the sport is not particularly popular in the United States. However, that is actually an advantage for UNC's team, because the majority of their male players come from overseas where the sport is more popular.
“These guys come in and they’re much more skilled than guys who are just athletic but have never played before,” Longmate said. “That’s been a huge benefit for us.”
The Sweethearts are a tight-knit group. They like to do things together – whether it’s pregame meals at Olive Garden, post-game milkshakes at Cookout, or interviews with The Daily Tar Heel. They love to joke around and make memes of each other on the club's Instagram.
Although one of their goals is to always have a good time, they also want to win. Junior treasurer Julia Miller, who still has the 2015 championship trophy buried in the back of her car, thinks they do a pretty good job of balancing both.
“We definitely goof off a lot,” Miller said. “But once we start practicing, once the game starts, there’s no joking around. Everyone’s focused and committed to winning.”
It won’t be easy for this team. It takes a “survive and advance” mentality, and they can’t afford to overlook anyone.
“Even the year we won, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we’re definitely going to win this,'” Miller said. “Every game was like a battle. You really have to take it one game at a time, because at that stage everyone is really good and capable of winning.”