Athlete Profile: Valerie Daifotis '19

Photo by Sydney Sibelius '18. First-year Valerie Daifotis, a Connecticut native, will play for the 5C Club Field Hockey Team.

Photo by Sydney Sibelius '18. First-year Valerie Daifotis, a Connecticut native, will play for the 5C Club Field Hockey Team.

By Sydney Sibelius '18
Staff Writer

Three years ago, students from the 5Cs came together to create a club field hockey team. As a traditionally East Coast sport, field hockey has not yet gained much popularity in California. However, enough student interest at the 5Cs led to the creation of a team, which is now in a collegiate league.

Valerie Daifotis ‘19 is from New Canaan, CT and grew up with a family of field hockey players. Following in the footsteps of her sisters led her to be interested in playing in college, and as a first year, she joined the 5C Club Field Hockey team.

TSV: Tell me about your history with field hockey.

VD: I had to play a sport when I started high school, which was 7th grade, and my sisters had all played field hockey, so I knew I was going to try it. I ended up loving it. I actually started playing goalie, which was fun at first, but I did not want to stick with it. I wanted to be out on the field. After the first season, I moved on to defense and I loved it. I played in 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grades. I was on the junior school team, and then JV in 9th and 10th, and I was captain in 10th. That summer I had surgery and couldn’t play in the fall of my junior year, so then I was kind of worried about getting back into it the fall of my senior year with everything going on and having missed a season. So I took that season off and knew that I wanted to play in college. Not super intensely, but I wanted to see if I could find a club team.

TSV: Tell me about the team here.

VD: The club team here only practices twice a week, which is good for my schedule here. We have games against other club teams, mostly the UC schools, and we alternate home and away. There is no coach, so it’s a student-run practice. It will be kind of nice and a little more casual. I know some people probably want the strictness of a more intense team, but from the practices I’ve been to, we know how to play, and a player can run the practice and it works just fine. It’s 5C and coed, though there is only one boy. That’s kind of expected, though; I don’t know any boys that play. It’s pretty small-- I think last year they might have only had 11 players, and field hockey is really big on the East Coast. Naturally it’s kind of unknown here. I think from who I’ve met, there are some West Coast players, but a lot of them are people out here who played in high school on the East Coast.

TSV: What’s your favorite thing about the sport?

VD: I think this goes for a lot of sports, but just being part of a team. It’s a little cliche, but when I went to the first practice after not having played for two years, I really missed it. You feel really powerful when you’re on a field together. I really like having a stick and a ball and being able to hit something.

TSV: What are you most excited for with the team this year?

VD: Getting to know the players from other schools, and hopefully we can do some kind of team bonding to encourage the off-the-field connection. If you’re better friends with the players, it makes for more of a cohesive playing team. I’m looking forward to just playing in general. I didn’t realize that I would have this option of playing on a club team here, and I’m happy it exists.

TSV: What is something unique to field hockey that spectators might not know about?

VD: You might notice, especially at lower levels, that there is a lot of stop-and-go. You’ll get called if your foot touches the ball or if you block someone with your back. You have to make it fair for each player to be able to get the ball. There is a lot of turnaround. You’ll think when you’re watching, “why can’t they just play and get the ball up the field?” Also, the skirts are cute, but not necessarily unique to field hockey. But the stop-and-go nature of it is weird to people watching.