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Interview: Caylie's SHC Story

20th November 2020

By Surbiton HC

Caylie McMahon has become a familiar face around SHC in the last few months, whether in her goalie kit or coaching our younger players and junior goalkeepers. We talked to her about her experience of the club so far...

Tell us a little about how you came to join Surbiton HC.

I ended up at SHC totally unexpectedly. The short version is that I was committed to Stanford University for field hockey in the same graduating class as Surbiton’s own Issy Carey and Emily Guckian. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, in July Stanford cut 11 sports programs including field hockey which left me with an unknown future since I had been committed since I was 14 years old. One day I randomly called Issy to hear what her plans were for this year and we jokingly mentioned the idea of me coming over, living with her family and training with Surbiton. A week before I arrived I impulsively decided to take a gap year and booked my flight!

Any particularly memorable moments at SHC so far?

The mix of high level hockey and the friendly social community surrounding every big weekend match is what makes the culture at Surbiton so special and something I will never forget.

I’ve made so many memories at Surbiton in a short time here. Being a goalie and basically filling in empty goals for the 1s and 2s trainings has been a lot of fun and I have truly learned a lot from every outstanding player and coach. Some of my favorite memories come from training but I have enjoyed my time off of the field as well getting to know everyone around the club. The friendships I have built through coaching, playing, and from sticking around in the tent after games to have some fun and to soak up all of my time here are invaluable. Surbiton has allowed me to make several lifelong friends and form connections with people halfway across the world. I cannot say enough about the people at Surbiton and how grateful I am for my time here.

What are the biggest similarities and differences you’ve noticed between hockey in England and your previous experiences in the US?

The style of play here is different to the US, which is beneficial as I learn new tactics to enhance my game. The club system in the US is very different where the oldest age group is Under 19, so there is no hockey after university. It is definitely a big difference playing with players who have returned from university or who have even won Olympic medals - that just wouldn’t happen in the US. Surbiton plays at an extremely high level and I am pushed to my best at every training. Playing on the USA U16 and U18 Junior National teams, our style of play is very fast and direct, while Surbiton puts emphasis on possession and tactics.

What do you think of the coaching set up at the club?

I am a volunteer coach for the U10 girls and U14/U16 goalkeepers. Coaching is a lot of fun and definitely tests my knowledge of the game. I would like to think that the players listen more to what I am saying hockey-wise and less to my accent! Surbiton does a great job of making sure the coaches are involved and are successfully making their players better.

What’s the most challenging part of being overseas at the moment?

The lockdown this month and not being able to drive, see anyone, or play hockey. Luckily I haven't really been homesick as the Careys have been incredible to me and I have felt very welcomed at the club by all of the members.

What’s next for you?

I recently committed to the University of Michigan to continue pursuing both a high level of academics and athletics. The combination of the state of the art facilities, outstanding coaches, and a fantastic team dynamic is what drew me to Michigan. Also, Meg Dowthwaite from the SHC L1s recently graduated from Michigan and loved every moment of her time there so she has also played a major part in convincing me to go! I am still young and plans change but my future aspirations on the pitch would be to have a successful four years at the University of Michigan and to continue to see how far I can get within the USA system.

I am forever grateful for the friendships I have made on and off the field at Surbiton and am hoping (if COVID-19 permits) to be able to return to Surbiton in January to continue to train through the spring season.

Thanks Caylie… and good luck!