In The Locker Room with Eli Modahl, Field Hockey Captain and Intern for the Office of Environmental Sustainability


Curtesy of Go Yeo

College third-year and field hockey defender Eli Modahl.

College third-year and field hockey defender Eli Modahl is looking forward to intercollegiate competition in field hockey for the first time in two years. To stay connected with her team, Modahl has participated in team activities on campus and even trained for a half marathon while away from Oberlin last summer. Her goal for the season is to make the most of her last year and enjoy every minute of it. Modahl, an Environmental Studies and Geology double major, is also involved in sustainability in Oberlin. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


How did you get started playing field hockey?

I started playing field hockey when I was in seventh grade, so it has been almost ten years. I started playing because my older sister played, so growing up I always watched her play and being a younger sibling I always wanted to be like my big sister.


What is the best part about competing at the collegiate level?

Everyone on the team is so incredibly committed to the team and everyone absolutely loves playing the sport, so being able to share something we’re all really passionate about sets college competition apart from high school or other levels. That’s probably the best thing — to share that with people I’m really close with. 


What has it been like not competing against other schools for nearly two years?

It has been really weird. The biggest thing for me was that we weren’t together as a team. Our team has always been really close, so not having that time spent together every year and not being able to do the things we love doing is really tough. 


What have you done to work on skills during the break from competition?

We have half our team here this summer and we practice a couple days a week and we mostly do workouts and team bonding activities. When we were at home, a lot of us found ways to train together. One of the other seniors and I trained for a half marathon together last summer even though we were six states away from each other. It was a lot of running. I don’t think when we started it we quite understood how much running it would be, and we got to the point where we were running around 30 miles a week. It was good knowing someone else that was suffering the same way. 


What have been the challenges and positives of the summer semester?

It has certainly been a very different experience. I think we all experience this during the spring when the weather gets a lot nicer: It becomes so much harder to sit inside and accomplish our work when all we want to do is go outside. Breaking the mentality that “It’s summer, I should be off,” is definitely something that has been a struggle this summer. However, the fact that the campus wasn’t so full, COVID-19 restrictions were becoming more relaxed, and being able to take time with people has been nice. For me, when I go home I’m not anywhere near my friends and teammates so being here with all of them is a plus. Going into pre-season while still in pre-season is a negative but it has definitely been good to be with everyone all summer. 


What sparked your interest in Environmental Studies and Geology?

Environmental science has always been something I’ve been very interested in, and it’s part of why I picked Oberlin, because they had a strong program and I could also play field hockey. Within the Environmental Studies program you are required to take a geology course so after I took that course my sophomore year I absolutely fell in love with the entire department. It was really fascinating, the Geology department turned out to be a little family and I just fell into geology. My focus within Environmental Studies is environmental geology which is straddling between the two. The crossover between Environmental Studies and geology is really fascinating. 


What are your career goals after graduation?

The best idea I have is looking at something within geography because it is a field that combines both of my majors. That’s the closest idea I have because it involves a lot of my interests. Aside from that, I’m still feeling out a lot of things.


Do you have any jobs or activities outside of field hockey and your coursework?

I’m an intern for the Office of Environmental Sustainability. I run two green programs for the school and I’m currently working on writing the “Our Sustainability” report for Oberlin College. I’ve also been working on the Sustainable Infrastructure Project which is what all the construction around campus lately has been for.