Fallbrook High School field hockey players Maddie Ashbrook and Tatiana Arias participated in the Disney Showcase Feb. 7 to 10 in Orlando, Fla.
Ashbrook and Arias played with the San Diego Flyers, which is the off-season club of Scripps Ranch High School. The Flyers’ 14 players included three from Poway High School, two from Serra High School, and one from Torrey Pines High School as well as the two Fallbrook players and six from Scripps Ranch.
“They played really well,” San Diego Flyers coach Jane Morrill, who also coaches the Scripps Ranch High School team during the CIF season.
The Flyers placed second in their bracket and lost the championship game in an overtime penalty stroke shootout. “That was pretty disappointing, but it happens,” Ashbrook said.
“It was kind of disappointing, but it was a good experience,” Arias said. “The intensity was definitely there.”
In the past Fallbrook’s players have joined the Vista Hot Stix, which is coached by Vista High School coach Gail Petty, for the Disney Tournament. A change by USA Field Hockey now limits the number of players a club can borrow. That rule only applies to USA Field Hockey tournaments such as the Disney Showcase or Thanksgiving Weekend’s National Field Hockey Festival and not to the high school indoor league, the National Indoor Tournament, or the Cal Cup, so Ashbrook, Arias, and the other players were able to change their registration to the Flyers and join the Scripps Ranch players.
Former Fallbrook coach Kathy Waite stayed involved with the program after her retirement and is now the team’s manager. After Petty opted not to take a team to the tournament, Waite contacted Morrill to inquire about berths for Ashbrook and Arias. “I knew they wanted to get on,” Waite said.
Morrill added the Fallbrook girls to the Flyers squad. “I’m glad I could hook them up with Jane,” Waite said. “It worked out well.”
The Flyers team was assembled about a month before the Disney Showcase and had a handful of practices. “We were really thrilled with the way the girls played with so few practices,” Morrill said.
“We got used to playing with each other,” Arias said.
“I really liked the team. It was a pretty good experience. It was enjoyable,” Ashbrook said.
The Flyers won their first game and finished with a 4-2-2 record including the strokes loss, which equates to a 4-1-3 record during regulation play.
“They really started working well together, I would say, in the second game, and from then on they just played great,” Morrill said. “As the weekend progressed they started getting better and better.”
“The team worked out really nicely, and we all played really well together,” Arias said.
“We came together pretty well as a team,” Ashbrook said. “We acted like we had played together for a while.”
“All the kids played well,” Morrill said. “It was good all the way around.”
Arias noted that the Flyers played opponents from throughout the United States. “We had to rise to the occasion,” she said. “The competition was pretty high, so that made me compete better.”
The San Diego Flyers and the San Jose Fly were the only two West Coast teams which participated in this year’s Disney Showcase. Arias noted a contrast between East Coast teams and West Coast teams. “Their styles of play were different,” she said.
In addition to giving the players competition against nationwide opposition, the Disney Showcase is also witnessed by college coaches. “It was a great experience, a lot of college exposure,” said Ashbrook, who is a junior. “I had colleges contacting me, so it was pretty good.”
Arias is a freshman who split the 2012 CIF season between Fallbrook’s junior varsity and varsity squads. Arias noted that she participated in the Disney Showcase to improve her skills as well as to obtain initial exposure in the presence of college coaches. “I want to shoot to play as high as I can,” she said.
Arias added that she also learned what she needed to do to improve her play. Although she will not be able to sign a college letter of intent until February 2016, the tournament allowed college coaches to become aware of her prior to the start of the recruiting process. “Playing in the tournament really got me exposure,” Arias said.
Morrill placed the San Diego Flyers players at different positions throughout the tournament to provide more options for the college coaches attending. “They’re very versatile, so you can play them anywhere,” she said.
Ashbrook played forward during the high school season. During her sophomore year, she was a center midfielder on Fallbrook’s junior varsity, so her play at center midfield in the Disney Showcase wasn’t a total adjustment. “It was a bit different knowing I was in a different position in front of college coaches,” she said.
“I personally really enjoyed the tournament,” Arias said.
The tournament has a Disney theme. “That kind of put a little fun into the tournament,” Arias said.
“It was a really good experience, and I’m glad they did it,” said Fallbrook coach Kirstin Mueller.