As field hockey games go, the Oct. 8 Hammond-Glenelg junior varsity game was a major mismatch. Glenelg was undefeated; Hammond was winless. Spoiler alert: there was no upset.
This story is about field hockey and it is about something else — humanity. It’s about how doing something good for someone else can make you feel better yourself.
Hammond’s Tori Brozyna has special needs.
“She probably should have played one of the allied sports, but she really wanted to do field hockey,” said Hammond varsity coach Terry Smith.
Smith said Brozyna’s uncle played football for her husband, Bill, and Brozyna’s mother asked him if it would be OK for her daughter to play field hockey.
Bill Smith, who is Hammond’s JV field hockey coach, was agreeable.
“The girls welcomed Tori with open arms, and she is so sweet,” Terry Smith said. “She does some things that lighten the mood, and she is always so cheery. She is really great for the team and for all of us.”
Bill Smith planned to ask if Tori could dribble the ball a little during the Glenelg game, which was Hammond’s last home game. However, a sudden illness caused him to miss the game so it was Terry who carried it through with the request.
“Tori’s never really touched the ball before,” Terry said.
Glenelg JV coach Joanne Reid told her players the situation — Hammond wanted this girl to be able to dribble the ball up the field.
A simple enough request, but the plan soon was expanded.
“We thought it would be a good idea to let her score. We already knew that we would win the game,” said Glenelg sophomore Maisy Haney.
Glenelg even helped set the tactics, suggesting that when Hammond got ball possession in a good field position, it should call a timeout.
“We told Tori that we were setting up a play. A teammate would send her a pass, she should then dribble in and try to score,” Terry Smith said.
Brozyna received a free hit five yards outside the circle. She dribbled in and Glenelg’s goalkeeper stepped up to her, but Brozyna got her shot off and scored.
“The look on her face was priceless. It took her a couple of seconds to realize she had scored,” Haney said. “I can’t even describe the look on her face. It was like she had just won the lottery.”
“Our girls were cheering her on,” Reid said. “A couple of girls were actually crying and Tori was so happy.”
“We were screaming just as much as her teammates were,” Haney said.
Since she’s seldom even in a game, Brozyna had to be told that in field hockey, the goal-scorer picks up the ball and runs it back to the center line.
The whole event touched Reid.
“It melted my heart,” she said. “We were very proud of her. …I’d do it 100 more times.”
Haney might even go further. “I’d do it even if we were losing the game.”
The Glenelg players know that they made Brozyna’s day very special.
And Brozyna knows it was special, too.
“She told her mother after the game, ‘Mom, even the girls on the other team knew my name,’ ” Smith said.