Field Hockey Players Help Local Girl Recover from Stroke

by USA Field Hockey

Video Courtesy of WCVB

"Strong Alone, Stronger Together".

That is the slogan of Needham Youth Field Hockey in Needham, Mass. Not only is it the foundation of what the coaches instill on their athletes but it is something that more recently has helped make an impact within the community.

Dina Hannigan started Needham Youth Field Hockey in 2020 and, although in the thick of the pandemic, they were able to produce their first season that fall. In December 2020, 11-year-old and member of the 3rd grade team, Marina Ganetsky, suffered a stroke on the playground at school. Knowing that her road to recovery was going to be a long one, Dina kept in touch with the family.

In the spring of 2021, Marina's mom, Sasha Yampolsky, asked Dina if she would be interested in coming to play field hockey with Marina, or if maybe she could bring several older athletes to help while she recovered.

"Marina fell in love with field hockey that first fall with us, and her mom had a hunch that by keeping the stick in her hands she would progress in her recovery," commented Dina. "It was a no brainer for me. I immediately wanted to help."

Dina reached out to three girls, Maeve Hymovitz, Nicki Marshall and Vixie Stevens, that she knew would be up for the challenge. Two of them had already coached Marina, and the 'trio' happily agreed to volunteer their time.

In September 2021, they started going twice a week for what was called Marina's field hockey therapy. On top of that, she had physical and occupational therapy. These sessions are still ongoing in Marina's progress and there is no doubt the 'trio' has helped make an impact on her recovery. 

"Coach Dina and the girls just really truly care about Marina, truly care, and that's huge," commented Sasha.

There is no doubt the power of sport is strong, but the impact, commitment and dedication that the 'trio' has made through voluntarily teaching field hockey to Marina is even stronger.