WESTBROOK >> Lili Dickey dreamed of the day she would eventually play for her mother, Westbrook field hockey coach Janet Dickey.
But running almost got in the way
It wasn’t that Lili loved cross country. She just really didn’t like to run at all.
On the first day of tryouts for the Westbrook Middle School team, Lili came home and told her mother she was quitting field hockey.
“I quit, I’m not playing field hockey,” Lili recalled telling her mother. “They made us do running drills all day and I don’t like to run.”
Dickey told her daughter to give it a few more days. As each day passed, there were more field hockey drills and less running. Lili stuck with it and eventually developed into an all-around player. Now she is a senior co-captain and one of the impact players for her mother’s White Knights.
“I was born with a field hockey stick in my hand, and playing for my mom was something I always thought about growing up, and the experience has been awesome,” Lili said. “Not everyone gets to experience this kind of mother-daughter relationship with your mother as the head coach. It’s been great and it’s created an even stronger bond between me and and my mom. I never expected this experience to be something that would result in me being so close to my mom. I mean, how many girls on a field hockey team get to go home with the coach every day?”
Lili, who is also Westbrook’s team of one for gymnastics and a member of the softball team, had a better appreciation for the game once she started playing. She attended camps and clinics at Wake Forest, Towson and Sienna and began playing year round. She has the ability to play any position, and this season she’s playing as a midfielder or defender depending on the opponent and where she is needed most.
When Dickey first became Westbrook coach 25 seasons ago she never envisioned a daughter playing for her, or that she would be coaching for 25 years.
“When you first get hired to coach, you never think about how long you will be doing it,” Dickey said. “And when I first got hired I didn’t have children. But as the years have gone by, and having two boys and a girl who were very athletic and liked sports, I knew Lili would be playing some sport some day.
“In the back of my mind I hoped she would play field hockey, but I never pushed her to play. I actually encouraged her to play different sports. …She discovered softball and gymnastics and fell in love with those sports, but when she started playing field hockey for the middle school and developed a passion for it, that was pretty special.”
Last season, Lili was selected to the Register All-Area team as a midfielder. She scored nine goals and added six assists to lead the White Knights to a 10-4-4 record. This season the White Knights are 4-0 and Lili has two goals and an assist. Sophomore forward Alexa Mulvihill leads the team with seven goals and three assists and senior goalie Brooke Amendola has three shutouts. Co-captain Lydia Murphy is another talented midfielder.
While the Dickeys’ mother-daughter relationship has become stronger, it does create some added pressure in a team environment.
“There has never been any pressure from the girls on the team; they’ve been so supportive and we’re all so close,” Lili said. “It’s more about pressure I put on myself because I think more is expected from me being the coach’s daughter. My mom also pushes me a little more than the other girls because she holds me to a higher standard, since I play year round. But that’s a good thing because it makes me more focused.”
Each season when determining starters, Dickey said she over-evaluates Lili to make sure she is worthy of being a starter.
“I especially over-evaluated her as a freshman,” Dickey said. “The hardest thing is for a freshman to come in and get a starting position. But my job is to put the best 11 kids on the field and she has been a four-year starter for me. She has earned everything strictly due to her talent and she’s been one of my top players. I know she has felt pressure being the coach’s daughter, but she has managed the pressure the best she can.”
The past four seasons have been special for coach Dickey.
“I have had a lot of great field hockey memories over the years, and my assistant the past 20 years (Emily Mccabe Alger) has been a huge help,” Dickey said. “But being able to coach my daughter these past four seasons has meant a lot to me and ranks up there as one of those special memories. Seeing Lili work so hard to develop and improve says a lot about her work ethic. One area she has really improved is her communication skills on the field. She has the potential to do very well beyond high school. The satisfying thing for me when she plays in college is it will be all about her. She won’t be the coach’s kid any more.”
Lili is looking forward to playing in college, but has mixed emotions playing her final season at Westbrook.
“It’s been a great experience and a lot of fun playing with my teammates and for my mom,” Lili said. “When we’re at the field she’s my coach, but when we’re at home she’s just Mom. I’m going to miss playing for her and I’ll miss my teammates.”
Lili, who says she still doesn’t really like running, is leaning toward playing for Sienna.