Alvaro Salcedo believes you are never too old to play field hockey. Salcedo should know. He has been competing in the sport for nearly three decades.
After representing the United States on a 40-and-over team in the Masters Hockey World Cup in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in early June, Salcedo is spending seven weeks visiting family in Spain and Michigan.
But the Roland Park resident and Gilman upper school physics teacher can't wait to take the field again later this month, suiting up for a team called Tequilia Sunrise in the Baltimore Field Hockey Association fall league at Roland Park Country School.
This will be Salcedo's seventh year in the league, which features players ranging in age from 18 to 70.
"I love the sport," Salcedo said. "Any opportunity I have to play I get pretty excited about. We have a fall league, then a spring league in College Park. We play in tournaments."
One of Salcedo's biggest challenges in field hockey is promoting it.
The native of Madrid, Spain says that way more men and boys play the sport in Europe than in the United States.
It took Salcedo five years to find a team on which to play after moving to Roland Park in 2002.
"I try to promote it because its a very fun sport," said Salcedo, 41. "Field hockey is big in the states for women, but not for men. But the boys always think their sisters play and they are a little hesitant to try it. Once they try it, they realize its a lot of fun."
Salcedo has made some progress in getting more boys to play field hockey.
He started an intramural field hockey program at Gilman in 2011.
It features about a dozen participants and runs daily from November to January; Games are played on the turf field near to the Redmond C.S. Finney Athletic Center.
"It's been going great," Salcedo said. "A lot of kids start when they are freshmen and sophomores. They keep coming back and bring their friends from other sports. I have guys that pick up tremendous skills. One of my students (John Locke) took part in a clinic, hosted by the under-18 Team USA coach."
Jesse Larson, who played with Salcedo for five years on Tequila Sunrise, praises the Gilman teacher for his unflagging dedication to field hockey.
"He enjoys it as much as anybody," Larson said. "He started a program at his school and to me that speaks volumes about him wanting the sport to grow."
Larson and the players Salcedo coaches must be impressed with his field hockey resume, which includes a 10-year stint playing for the year-round Club de Campo team in Spain's 14-team National League.
"He is a very quick and smart player," Larson said. "He makes quick decisions. And he is a generous player. He is a great passer."
The 5-foot-10 Salcedi used that type experience to make the Team U.S. in a tryout, at Princeton University in December.
In June, the squad competed in the Masters Hockey World Cup, playing games against South Africa, Ireland, Italy, Ghana, Australia and Wales.
Salcedo, who plays midfield and forward, received a $3,000 professional development grant from Gilman to help fund the $4,500 trip.
"When I was young and playing field hockey, my dream was to play in the Olympics," Salcedo said. "But I never made the national team in Spain. What I really wanted to do was experience the highest possible level of hockey. I got all of that in this tournament."