After their win against Vermont, field hockey players Aisling Coyle and Aisling McKeon ran over to the sideline, practically finishing each other’s sentences.
Coyle, a sophomore midfielder from Glasgow, Scotland, and McKeon, a junior midfielder from Galway, Ireland, are just two of the international students on the team this year.
While growing up within a nine-hour drive from each other, they had similar experiences while starting their hockey careers. For example, both started playing for club teams when they were around 7 years old.
“Club back home is a lot more intense,” Coyle said. “Girls play at a high level on club teams when they are in their teens.”
Hockey is not as intense at the university level in Europe as it is in America, Coyle said. McKeon and Coyle took advantage of opportunities to play at Ohio State in order to continue playing at the level they were used to in European club play.
Coyle talked to every big hockey school before deciding to come to OSU, she said.
She noticed OSU had quite a few international players, and even Scottish players on some teams.
“I knew I would have something in common with others,” she said. “There were people I would relate to.”
McKeon’s decision to play for OSU was made a little differently.
“I had family and friends that lived in the States and brought the idea to my parents,” she said. “Everything was predetermined and pre-organized.”
Coyle and McKeon are enjoying their time in the states, but admit hockey is a little different in America.
In America, “hockey is a lifestyle,” McKeon said. “In Europe it is your hobby.”
One of the biggest adjustments they had to make was getting used to America’s on-the-go lifestyle.
“I remember eating and having to take my meal to go one time, wondering what in the world was going on,” McKeon said. “Back home we have more time to sit and enjoy a meal, more time to relax and talk.”
“Now we have gotten used to it and tell the others to hurry up,” Coyle added.
The popularity of the sport is also different. In Europe, most kids participate in field hockey, Coyne said. The lack of a men’s national field hockey team illustrates the lack of interest in the sport in America, they said. America “is the only country to not have a men’s team,” Coyle said.
After spending the last few years in America, both Coyle and McKeon said they could envision field hockey becoming a more popular sport in the States.
“You have money, you can afford the best coaches,” McKeon said.
Coyle and McKeon have both started each of the team’s eight games this season. Coyle ranks third on the team with 10 points.
Both plan on returning home after graduation.