Field Hockey team forced to replace stolen gear

Junior Madeline Lohse makes a pass around her teammate, freshman Lara Lew-Strass, during practice. Lohse’s stick was one of around 15 that disappeared from the field hockey equipment shed between Oct. 2 and 3. Affected players have been forced to practice with lower quality sticks than their own personal sticks, and while some plan to replace their missing sticks, others, including Lohse, don’t. “Even though we were thankful to have loaners, I think they’ve affected the team because the loaners don’t allow players to pass the ball with as much power, and we aren’t used to them,” Lohse said. Photo: Kira Sterling

Following the theft of over a dozen field hockey sticks and a set of goalie gear between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 from the field hockey shed at Palo Alto High School, the varsity girls’ field hockey team will have to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of new sticks and gear.

According to coach Jenny Crane, the field hockey equipment, located in a shed on the lacrosse field by El Camino Real, went missing sometime between the team’s Wednesday afternoon practice and their game the next day. Around 15 sticks were stolen, along with around 75 balls and a set of goalie equipment. 

The field hockey sticks individually ranged from $100 to $350, and each ball was worth around $5. The goalie gear set was worth about $1,200, Crane said. 

The players did not discover the loss of their gear until they were preparing to leave for their game at Lynbrook High School, Crane said. Without their sticks, the goalie’s protective equipment, or their balls, the team was under-equipped for its game. 

Luckily, in addition to the players’ personal field hockey sticks kept in the shed, the team had a supply of backup sticks, donated to the program by USA Field Hockey, which were kept in the team room in the Peery Center.

With only their backup sticks — no balls or goalie equipment — the players made their way to Lynbrook, where they tied, 0-0.

Two of the stolen sticks belonged to sophomore Phoebe Kim, who said that until the equipment is replaced, the team’s performance may be impacted.  

“Now we’re stuck with using sticks that we aren’t used to because each stick is different,” Kim said. “I feel like that’s going to affect the way we play during games.

Sophomore goalie Reilly Bruff said that her gear, including a goalie stick, hand pads, a chest protector, a neck guard, and leg, shin, knee, and foot protectors, was among the equipment stolen from the shed.

“I can’t really play without my gear, it’s not allowed,” Bruff said. “So we have to use gear from other people.”

According to Crane, Paly Sports Boosters was unable to reimburse players for their personal sticks, but was able to cover the cost of replacing the goalie equipment, since it is considered a necessity for the team. Crane said she has already purchased new balls and goalie equipment.

According to Crane, team parents are using this opportunity to try to raise money to buy a better set of sticks for the team so that players won’t have to purchase their own sticks in the future.

Most of the equipment still remains unaccounted for, but on Oct. 5, the ball bucket was found on Stanford campus with about 45 balls in it. Crane has worked with school administration to file a police report.

“We’ve just improvised, and I’m really proud of the girls and how they’ve handled the entire situation,” Crane said. “When faced with this adversity, they’ve been pretty resilient.”