Jeremy Roberts of Laurel, center, crouches in a defesnsive stance protecting his goalie Bill Levey of Alexandria against a shot by Alvaro Salcedo of Baltimore during a co-ed adult indoor field hockey league at Get Good Field House in North Laurel on Friday, Feb. 20. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Field hockey, played at the Division I level by many women’s college teams, is a sport that doesn’t require a male player to be more than six feet tall and 200 pounds, like a top football quarterback.
Roberts, 5 feet 8 inches and about 155 pounds, is trying to bring his love of field hockey to a wider audience, including American males.
In the United States, field hockey is mostly a female domain as most American men grow up playing other sports. Field hockey first became an Olympic sport for men in London in 2012.
The University of Maryland women have won seven NCAA Division I national titles under head coach Missy Meharg.
Roberts said getting a boys program established is an “uphill battle.”
Getting adults to play has been easier. Roberts helped start a co-ed adult league, the Baltimore Washington Indoor Hockey League, which played its first game Jan. 16. Games are played Friday nights at Get Good Fieldhouse, an indoor facility on Freestate Drive in North Laurel.
“It has been really popular so far,” said Roberts. “We want to continue for the next year. It is pretty much for adults and we have a lot of national team players.”
Roberts is on the USA masters team and took part in a tournament last year in The Netherlands, where field hockey is a very popular men’s sport.
Other regular players in the league are current USA master team members Vernon Vassou and Greg Pereira; and former U.S. indoor national team members Jesse Larson and Carolyn Cabrey.
Pereira, 50, a long-time Fulton resident, grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Richard Montgomery High in Rockville.
Both of his parents are from India, where men’s field hockey is popular. His father was well aware of the sport when he moved to the United States in the 1960s but a family trip to the Mall in Washington in the late 1970s re-introduced Pereira’s father to field hockey.
“One day my mom decided that we take a picnic right next to the reflecting pool,” recalls Pereira.
Nearby were some open fields used for athletic events. “We just happened to be there and an Indian guy walked by and was holding a field hockey stick,” he says. “My father said, ‘Let’s check it out.’ It became the worse nightmare for my mother.”
The nightmare began when Pereira and his two brothers, who had played baseball, basketball and football, became immersed in the game of field hockey, thanks in part to their father. They played on club teams but could not play in high school or college since the sport is not offered as a men’s NCAA sport in this country.
Pereira, who works for the National Transportation Board, studied computer science and information technology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he helped coach the women’s field hockey team.
Pereira said being part of the Laurel league made sense to him
“We try to make