Last season was an investment in the future for the South Kingstown field hockey team.
This fall, the Rebels are hoping to start collecting on that investment.
After back-to-back appearances in the Division II Championship South Kingstown made the jump to Division I in 2012, but unfortunately for the Rebels it came in a year in which the majority of their starters from the year before had graduated.
The result was a 4-12-0 record but last season South Kingstown was playing for more than just wins and losses; it was playing to develop the quality of field hockey the program had to offer.
So far, McGregor has seen just that from her team.
“It was definitely a building year to try and start building the program for that next level of play – meaning the Division I level,” McGregor says. “It was a year to try and get us into that Division I mentality where we had some really strong upperclassmen so they were a good group to lead us into that level.
“We had five seniors and then there were girls out on the field starting that had never played before. For that reason it was certainly a young team that made tremendous strides by the end of the year. Whether we won or not didn’t matter, the improvement that we made from the beginning to the end was huge.”
For as much as the Rebels have improved though, they’re still quite a ways off from competing with the state’s best programs like Barrington, Lincoln School and Moses Brown.
Even catching teams like East Greenwich and North Kingstown could be a tough proposition this season as both clubs returned the majority of their rosters.
Spots six through eight in Division I, however, should be up for grabs this season and for a team one year removed from playing in D-II making the playoffs would be quite an accomplishment.
“I still think there’s an upper tier in Division I that we will struggle against but I think we have a good chance of playing really well against the rest of the division,” McGregor says. “It’s going to be another situation because we have so much youth that the second time we play teams it’s going to be a different story.”
“It’s going to be how quickly we can start to gel as a team because even the girls we have back are going to most likely be in different positions. We really need to get players to come together as quickly as possible as a cohesive unit. If that happens I think we could end up right there in the middle.”
If the Rebels are going to make a jump this season they are going to have to rely on their captains to lead a relatively inexperienced group of players.
“All three of our captains right now – Mayli Keefe, Lianna Aharon and India Aitkenhead – have done a good job of coming in prepared and ready for this season,” McGregor says. “I really, truly am looking to them and I’m hoping they guide the team out there on the field.”
The biggest question facing SK this season is who is going to win the starting spot in net as Morgan Fogleman – who started last season as a freshman – left to attend a boarding school.
“We are back to square one,” McGregor says. “We have three brand new goalies, I couldn’t tell you right now who’s going to play. We’re going to just let them learn until the moment of the first game.”
South Kingstown won’t have to wait too long to see where it stands and how far it has to go this fall once the regular season begins.
The Rebels open up at East Greenwich Wednesday, Sept 4 at 6:30 p.m. and follow up with another 6:30 p.m. start Friday, Sept. 6 at North Kingstown.
“That’s going to be a really good test for us especially the second time around,” McGregor says. “I like playing them early because it gives us a good sense that second time around of how much improvement we’ve made.”