Rye High School senior field hockey goalie and ice hockey defensive player Ali Howard wants people to know that she is “Not afraid to try something new or challenging.”
By Melanie Cane
Rye High School senior field hockey goalie and ice hockey defensive player Ali Howard wants people to know that she is “Not afraid to try something new or challenging.” Her parents, Emily and James, certainly know this about her, but when she told them she was going to try out for varsity field hockey goalie this year, they thought she was kidding.
Howard, who played almost every sport imaginable as a child, except for field hockey, was answering a plea for help from a veteran field hockey team member who recruited her to fill the void created after the team’s goalie graduated. “I jumped at the opportunity to play another sport for Rye High. Playing for the school gives me a sense of pride.”
Amazingly, Howard had never seen a field hockey game, so she studied the rules and practiced the position to the point where she excelled at tryouts. In the first week of practice, the Garnets’ Field Hockey Coach Emily Prince said, “Ali is so good it’s uncanny.” Howard lead the team to an 18-1-1 record, runner-up in the Section, and notched 14 shutouts and 47 saves.
“What a strength of character to take the ultimate risk and try something new,” lauded Coach Prince. “What a testament of athleticism to pick it up so quickly. She worked hard every practice and when we didn’t have practice she’d go to the turf and have someone take shots at her.”
Howard thoroughly enjoyed her field hockey experience. “The joy and thrill of the moment after winning when my whole team came running at me and jumped into my arms was unreal and irreplaceable.”
Anybody who knows Ali was not surprised that she mastered her role as field hockey goalie so quickly, because, as her parents said, “She was born an athlete.” She started ice skating at age 4 and by age 5 she was playing ice hockey with the Rye Rangers. She played eight other sports as well. “On a weekly basis, it was soccer, lacrosse, tennis, football, basketball, swimming, karate, and Taekwondo.”
Eventually, she narrowed her focus to ice hockey, which she partly attributes to the fact that her father was a collegiate player and loves the sport. She plays for three travel teams, as well as the Garnets’ varsity team and thrives on the physical aspect of the game. She also loves being the only girl on the boys’ team. “The bonds I have with the boys I have played with have given me 22 brothers and taught me to be tough and stand up for myself.”
Rye Ice Hockey Coach Peter Thomas is thrilled that Howard is on the team. “Ali is a huge part of our team and the guys embrace her as a teammate. I love coaching her. She She is a very cerebral player who knows the game and sees the ice well.”
Regarding college, Howard has been recruited to play hockey by several D3 and D2 schools. She is waiting to make a decision until she finds out where she is accepted based on her academics, which are outstanding. She has maintained a GPA of 97 by studying after practice and in the car on her way to practices and tournaments. Whether she plays college hockey or not, she will continue to play even if it is on a club team. “Ice hockey has always been a way of life for me and I cannot imagine my life without it,” she said.