In the Locker Room with Audrey Kamal, Field Hockey Walk-On


Courtesy of Audrey Kamal

College third-year Audrey Kamal.

College third-year Audrey Kamal had never played a varsity sport before walking onto the field hockey team. She brings that same determination and passion to her various extracurricular activities, including working as an operator of the Adam Joseph Lewis Center For Environmental Studies’s Living Machine. Whether she is running to practice or preparing for her future in environmental law, Kamal is a force to be reckoned with. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


What made you decide to walk on to the field hockey team?

I had become friends with some of the people on the team, and I loved how much they just seemed like a family. I had always wanted to play field hockey, but it’s not a popular sport where I’m from so there was never really an opportunity. During my first year, I took a fitness class with the head coach, and friends from the team kept encouraging me to join so I told the coach I was interested. I didn’t think it was possible to just join a team in college, but everyone kept encouraging me and I just finally took that leap. 

What has your experience been like since walking on?

It’s been a truly amazing experience. I was welcomed with open arms and treated just like any other player. I felt so comfortable asking teammates for help and getting pointers. It really just felt like joining a family. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Before our fall 2019 season, I spent the summer learning field hockey with a teammate who graduated, and after that time I felt like I could really be a good teammate and support my team no matter where I was on the field.

How did the players and coaches adapt to having a new player on the team?

I did extra practices with the coach and with teammates. My team and I communicated about what I needed help with and what I could be doing better to support the team. 

How did you learn to balance becoming a student-athlete with academics? 

I’ve always been someone that has a pretty full plate, so the adjustment wasn’t too difficult. Like the rest of the team, I’m a huge fan of Google Calendar and, for me, the best strategy was sectioning my time for doing work, going to my jobs, and being available for practice. The biggest change has been being sore. Before field hockey, I had just been a runner, so the biggest adjustment was really for my body. Playing field hockey meant asking my body to run differently than before, to think differently, and that’s something that I’m still working on. 

You’ve only had one season of play due to COVID-19 — how did that season go?

Last season was great. I didn’t play in many games, but by being on the sidelines I learned so much. I got to see things that I wanted to improve on, to learn how to do. I learned so much about field hockey just from watching and observing and, after games, I would meet with our coach to talk about certain aspects of the game.

What are you involved in outside of field hockey? 

Besides field hockey, I work for the AJLC’s Living Machine as an operator. I’m also a board member of the Green EDGE Fund and an Environmental Studies student representative. My main job as an operator is testing water samples from the Living Machine and Plum Creek, and I help to maintain the AJLC grounds like the apple orchard and the garden. On the Green EDGE Fund, I get to read amazing proposals, working with students, faculty, and community members on different ways to make Oberlin more sustainable and efficient. I work on the website and write our newsletters to raise awareness of what we do, and at the end of the year I write an annual report about all the fantastic projects we got to fund. As an Environmental Studies student rep, I get to work with two other amazing students and the ENVS faculty to help plan events like Environmental Careers Day.

What are some of your goals for your future in field hockey?

My goals are to enter our next season, whenever that may be, excited and ready to have fun. We are a strong team and family, and I know that we can handle anything together. Our team phrase is “adapt and overcome” and that’s exactly what we have done. So for us, I want us to go in ready to play and have the best time.