Some things have changed at Roland Park, where Eliza McLaren has taken over the field hockey head coaching duties from Debbie Bloodsworth, who resigned the position last spring.
But McLaren will continue many traditions Bloodsworth brought to the program over her 29 years. Top among them Saturday will be the continuation of the Sally E. Nyborg Invitational Tournament.
The tournament is in memory of Nyborg, a varsity field hockey player who died in 1998 from complications of lupus. The tournament is designed to honor her and raise money for lupus research.
McLaren has a deep understanding and appreciation for the event, which this year will also feature Class 4A state champion Westminster, currently ranked No. 4, along with No. 2 Severna Park, Bethesda-Chevy Chase and St. Stephen's and St. Agnes.
"I went to school here and played for Debbie Bloodsworth," said McLaren, who was also Bloodsworth's assistant coach for the last four years. "I didn't know Sally, but I was a student [and] a member of the community at the time, and I remember it vividly. I think we really have to emphasize the reason we have this tournament. Lupus is a disease that is largely unknown and yet so many suffer from it. There is no cure, and this tournament is in the memory of a really wonderful person, about raising money for research and about playing the game the way Sally did — for the love of it."
The tournament, which begins at 9 a.m. with Roland Park facing Westminster, is one of a number of big field hockey events in the area Saturday, as Roland Park, South River, Garrison Forest and Archbishop Spalding will all host tournaments that feature strong lineups.
While some of the teams at the Nyborg are known quantities — like Westminster, Severna Park and Fallston — Roland Park comes into the season with a little mystery.
McLaren, 27, is taking over a team that lost eight seniors and has new leadership. The new coach said she has been impressed with how her players have grown into their new rolls.
"I think we have some great players and that we've come together as a team," she said. "I think we're further along than other teams at this point in the season, and I'm counting on that [to help the team through the early games]."