A tradition of excellence surrounds the field hockey program. That tradition includes hard-working student-athletes putting their energy into making a commitment to their teammates. It also includes 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament (1994-1997, 2000-2006) under current head coach Alix Barrale, who enters her 13th season at Williams with an overall mark of 128-76 mark (.627 winning percentage). It also includes nine outright Little Three titles in that span and three NESCAC Championships as the Ephs have become a regional powerhouse.
Over the past 25 years, Barrale and former head coach Chris Mason, the current field hockey assistant and head coach of women’s lacrosse at Williams, have developed 27 All-Americans.
Off the field, the members of the program have approached their studies with the same determination, hard work and enthusiasm. In 2005, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) recognized Williams with a NFHCA Team Academic award. The NFHCA National Academic Team Award recognizes those institutions that achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 during the first semester of the 2005-06 academic year.
The Ephs’ schedule each year includes many of the region's top teams like Skidmore, Springfield and Keene State, as well as many top NESCAC teams.
Williams head coach Alix Barrale looks for two main characteristics from incoming student-athletes: Hard workers and people who love to be part of a team. “I look for people who are going to support each other and are all about the team and the team’s goals. At the same time, they have to be able to recognize what they do as individuals affects the team.”
Field hockey pre-season training emphasizes endurance, explosiveness, quickness and agility as well as individual stick skills. During the season continued work on these skills is blended with the development of a strong passing game, explosive attack and solid defense.
This is achieved through work on skills and strategies as well as awareness, anticipation, timing and extra effort. Strong basic skills are key as the many little things that make up the basic skills add up to make for a successful season.
NESCAC rules do not permit out of season practice thus many field hockey players also participate in other varsity sports in the winter and/or spring. Those players not involved in another sport continue to work out on their own.
Williams is fortunate to have good player turnout and the support from the administration to field a junior varsity team each fall. The junior varsity team allows players to play their way up to varsity level competition.
From the junior varsity player to the All-American honoree, the team works hard, with the primary goal being enjoyment of the team and the game of field hockey.