It takes a real trouper to get in between the pipes for a field hockey team.
Apparently, Davis High’s Ally Weir is the just the right mix of dedication, ability and goofiness to make it work.
Weir, whose sister and mother before her played the sport for the Blue Devils, has been the local team’s goalkeeper for each of the past two seasons.
To don 10 pounds of unwieldy equipment, slide a constrictive mask over your head then play in that get-up for more than an hour in temperatures pushing 100 degrees requires an unusual mind-set — especially when the team you’re playing for keeps the attacks on your goal at a minimum.
“It takes a special person to play the position … and Ally is a special person,” says DHS head coach Sandie Marotti-Huckins.
Weir has had plenty of help in keeping the wolf from the net, but on those rare instances that an opponent breaks through the defense, it must look like Darth Vader is standing guard for the Devil Empire.
Weir has recorded more than two dozen saves this fall and shutouts have been aplenty as Davis has gone 11-0 in the Eastern Athletic League.
“I love being able to stop goals — wow, big surprise, huh?” the free-spirited Weir says. “But the feeling of having made a really fantastic save — one after the other — and the (looks on) my teammates’ faces (after) having blocked shots is why I play.”
Kris Weir, Ally’s mom, is a sixth-grade teacher at Patwin Elementary and played for Sue Beaton at DHS. Sister Liz is attending Cal State Northridge and played for Katy Loge a few years back.
So it’s pretty obvious how Ally gravitated to field hockey …
“I really had no choice, like it or not,” Weir says in her good-natured way. “My mom would have somehow gotten me to play. But I thank her for that — this is my favorite sport. It helped that one of my best friends (Emmanuelle Cordier) had already done summer camp … at least I would know her (when I) started out.”
A former soccer keeper, Weir found that her new game grew on her, and Marotti-Huckins is delighted with how her goalie has evolved:
“I believe if Ally wanted to play at the next level, she could. When she focuses, she is unstoppable. If she dedicated herself to the sport, and became a student of the game, she could go a long way.”
However, it’s that focus that Weir finds herself, er, focusing on right now.
“It’s true. Especially this year, I don’t get a whole lot of (chances to make saves). To me, practice is more fun than a game,” says the junior backstop. “Sometimes I do have a hard time focusing, but the other 90 percent of the time I stay (involved) by watching my team play.”
Weir credits center defender Malia Fujisawa for “keeping my team (and me) in the game,” adding, “She does enough talking for the both of us, so I don’t know what I’ll do next year when she leaves.”
Marotti-Huckins and Weir say talking to her defense is something the personable keeper is working on.
“But it’s hard to know what to say, when they are already doing everything you want them too,” Weir says, laughing. “I couldn’t ask for a better back line — they all work well together and on their own. I know I can count on them.”
With field hockey evolving into an almost-year-round sport, Weir knows she has to be careful in the heat:
“Everyone always asks me how I stay cool, or how I’m not dying? The answer is simple, but gross …”
Little kids, turn away.
“I sweat. A lot. All that sweat cools me down. And I don’t have to run around a lot, so I don’t get too tired. Playing goalie, you just have to expect to be drenched when you are through with practice. Oh, and be grateful for any kind of breeze.”
OK, kids, time to pay attention again. Ally has some advice if you’re interested in playing field hockey:
“For any girls wanting to play, just get started. During the winter and summer we have camps and clubs. Field hockey is always in need of players, but that means when everyone starts out, everyone starts out from scratch.
“And don’t get discouraged at first because new things are always challenging. If you need any help, ask anyone on (this) team — we’d be ecstatic to help or answer any questions. It’s important to know how fun this sport is.”
Weir says her best classroom work comes in history and English, but she isn’t sure about university plans. She thinks she wants to play field hockey in college but time will tell, she adds.
“I love this sport. I am enjoying playing the sport right now,” Weir says.
Even if she is drenched, occasionally bored or thinking about her homework load as a teammate scores again — waaaaay at the other end of the field.
Notes: Weir is a lifelong Davis resident whose father John works in the California Treasurer’s Office. Ally plays trombone in the DHS Jazz Band and says she spends most of her “idle” time reading or hanging out with her friends. Camping and boogie-boarding are high on her recreation list and the talented Blue Devil dabbles in drawing. Too bad there’s not a beach near the Davis goal — she’d have something to do between opponents’ shots.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.