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Coming to Grips With Another Stick : What Started as a Lark, Became a Championship Spark

February 08, 1988|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | Times Staff Writer

One day when they were sophomores, Audra Fabian and a friend noticed a flier in the Edison High School locker room announcing field hockey tryouts.

Neither was sure exactly what field hockey was. But it looked as if it might be a good way to get in shape for softball.

That night at home, the friend, Jenny Gocke, read about field hockey in an encyclopedia, taking a crash course learning the game's rules. She called Fabian and they decided to try out.

There was a catch, however.

If either of them didn't make the team, the other would quit. Either they both played or neither would.

"We did it as a joke," Fabian said.

"We didn't think we would make it," Gocke said.

The joke was on them, though. Both made the varsity.

Fabian, now a senior, is the star of the team, and Gocke is the starting goalie.

Fabian was the most valuable player in the Santa Ana Valley Tournament in December. She also helped the Chargers win their first Sunset League championship this season.

This week, Fabian leads the Chargers into the field hockey Tournament of Champions, which is a substitute for the defunct Southern Section playoffs. Edison, the second-seeded team in the eight-team tournament, hosts Baldwin Park at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Colton is the top-seeded team. The semifinal round of the tournament is Thursday and the title game is Saturday.

The Southern Section no longer sanctions a field hockey playoff because fewer than 20% of the section schools have field hockey teams.

Playing in a championship game was the furthest thing on Fabian's mind three years ago, on the day she attended her first practice.

"I felt uncomfortable," she said. "I couldn't stop the ball. I was kind of a wimp. I was afraid of the ball. I had played softball since I was in elementary school, but this was something new. It was like starting all over."

Her parents and friends needed some explanation about her new sport, too.

"They would say, 'Field hockey? What's that?,' " Fabian said. "I'd say, we use a ball like a pool ball, you know because it's white, and a stick like a golf club."

Field hockey is best described as a cross between soccer and ice hockey. It's played outdoors on a grass field, about the same size as a soccer field, with goals at either end that roughly the size of those used in ice hockey.

The players--11 on a side, including a goalie--attempt to knock the ball, about the size of a baseball, into the goal with a wooden, ice hockey-like stick.

Fabian didn't play in her first game. In fact, she sat along with Gocke, on the bench for much of her sophomore season. This game, it turned out, was not an easy one to learn.

Finally, toward the end of the season, Fabian got into a few games.

She said she felt relaxed only after she scored her first goal. But she wasn't taking the sport seriously.

"(I) was a goof off queen that whole year," Fabian said. "I think the seniors hated me."

Edison advanced to the championship game her sophomore season and again last season, but lost both times. Fabian would like to win this time.

"This year is our last chance," Fabian said. "I'm more serious. I want to win (the tournament).

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