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Achieving goals in the classroom and on the field

Alvaro Salcedo’s field hockey journey
STICKS DOWN Alvaro Salcedo playing for Team USA vs Wales, at the 2014 Masters World Cup in Rotterdam.
STICKS DOWN Alvaro Salcedo playing for Team USA vs Wales, at the 2014 Masters World Cup in Rotterdam.

Energy is contagious; this is the mentality that physics teacher and co-field hockey coach, Alvaro Salcedo, goes into each game with. Showing his team that he is dedicated and willing to commit to the game early is something that he strives for, and he hopes that his team will do the same.

“I started playing when I was eight,” Salcedo said. “I was in school, and I had played soccer, like everybody else in Spain. I was not very good. But then that year, a teacher came and brought sticks and they offered that as a sport for school, so I switched from soccer to hockey.”

Salcedo spent the beginning of his field hockey career in Spain, playing for various teams.

“I played at my school until I was 14,” Salcedo said. “Then I joined a club and I played for the youth teams, then when I was around 19 years old I played for the Division 1 Team for my club. For that we traveled all over Spain, and that was for 10 years or so, and I had games every weekend. So, for almost every weekend I would go to different parts of Spain, while I was in college, and also while I was at work.” 

Even through the demands of college, work, and pursuing his Ph.D., Salcedo remained devoted to his team. He traveled all over Spain for games and even managed to study during away game trips. He mentioned he was able to get everything done because even at such a high level, they would only practice, at most, 2-3 times a week.

“When we had away games I would take my books, so I remember studying on the bus.” Salcedo said. “Then I moved to the States and I just did what I could, finding people who played, it’s hard for men. It’s hard in general because there are no leagues. But there weren’t that many changes. It went from very organized to playing coed, so there were more women and men that played. What’s cool in the States is that there are tournaments, so you can’t play regularly but all of a sudden, someone will be like ‘There’s a tournament in Miami,’ so you would go to Miami with some friends. So even that, I’ve traveled to several places in the States to play tournaments.

Salcedo’s dedication to field hockey persisted, even through his transition to the United States from Spain. He participated in tournaments across the country just to keep his love for the sport alive. He took his passion further when he started coaching.

“At my previous school, in Baltimore,was an all boys school so I ran an intramural program. I brought sticks and I showed a few boys, so we would have scrimmages, but they weren’t for real. Across the street there was a girls’ school and I helped them for one year.”

Coaching became Salcedo’s way of maintaining his connection with the sport while providing guidance and mentorship to young players. But he wanted to continue playing more competitively, which is when he was introduced to The Masters Tournaments.

“A few years ago they started doing Masters Tournaments,” Salcedo said. “ Those are tournaments for people that are 40, 45, 50, or 55. And I played for Team USA for 3 World Cups.”

Salcedo mentioned that qualifying for his first World Cup with Team USA in 2014 was one of his proudest field hockey achievements. Today, he helps coach the Greenhills Women’s Team with cocoach, Jill Dixon.

“We started working together this August for preseason here at Greenhills, but before that we had only chatted a couple of times,” Dixon said. “He’s very passionate about field hockey, he sees the game from a very fun and different perspective than I do, just in terms of how he evaluates the game. So that was fun for me because we can collaborate in so many ways, he’s a total goofball in practice, sometimes he makes the team laugh, and I think that it’s a really good balance to have him around.”

Salcedo and Dixon just started working with each other this year, but it’s obvious to her that Salcedo is very engaged and invested in the sport. Not only has Salcedo helped her out as a coach, but as a player too.

“He’s really encouraged and motivated me to get back into playing,” Dixon said. “I’m gonna play in the adult league he plays in, in a couple of weeks, which is very exciting. He’s very fiery on the sidelines during games, so I think he’s really good at providing that example that it’s okay to get worked up and emotionally invested in the games. So I’ve appreciated those lessons he’s taught the team.”

Salcedo is exceptional at leading the team by setting an energetic example which creates a comfortable atmosphere, as Dixon has expressed, for both her and the players. 

“Him playing field hockey in a lot of different countries has allowed him to teach us a lot of different things that he’s learned,” Meera Pandey ‘25 said. “So I think it’s changed the way our team has learned field hockey because we have been able to understand how things are done in other countries in regards to field hockey, and it just gives us a new perspective.”

Salcedo’s unique experiences help the team’s understanding of the sport, enhancing their dedication to field hockey. Coaching not only allows him to share his passion but also keeps him actively connected to the sport he loves.

“I mean I love coaching, but even when I’m coaching I need to have a stick in my hand. I cannot just not play. That part of me I hope will never go away.”

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