PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz, a former college field hockey player, on teaching her daughters the game

Nawaz (in yellow) in an Olympic development program as a teenager. Photo courtesy of Amna Nawaz.

“I remember it was mid-April, but still a bit chilly. Like many parents [during lockdown], we were doing everything we could to fill that time and get our kids outside and not feel like we were standing still.

“We had smaller field hockey sticks, a gift from my parents, sitting in the garage, and I thought, ‘This is the perfect time.’ There’s a school parking lot not far from us, it’s a nice big open space. I took the two girls there. At the time, they were four and six. I taught them the basics: how to holding a stick How to bend the knees How to hit the ball How to stop the ball safely

“With my schedule, I can’t spend a ton of focused time with them. My husband is full time parent. He also has most of the extra time—the first time he rode his bike, the graduation day photos. But that changed with the pandemic.

“I’ve been an athlete all my life, and field hockey had the most connection with me because my dad grew up in Pakistan. He taught me how to play in our backyard. At that time [with my girls], I thought about all the time my dad was spending with me, coming home from long days at the office and taking time off on weekends. About what it took to show up this way.

“My eldest daughter peeled earlier [on that day], so my little one and I kept going a bit longer. I don’t know if it’s because she really liked it or if she just wanted to spend more one-on-one time with mom. She started having a little trouble. She was trying to stop the ball when it was coming a little faster, and started hitting it a little harder. She swung and missed several times, letting the ball go past her to chase it. And I remember watching her not being frustrated. I remember it surprised me – that she was so determined to do it well and she was willing to put in the work to do it well.

“It also comforted me as a parent because we try to build resilience, that idea that they’re not going to crumble at the first hurdle. That’s one of the most important things you can teach to your children, and I saw it during this momentary glimpse.

This article originally appeared in the January 2022 issue of The Washingtonian.

Catherine J. Martinez