By Jennifer Soss

After the tragedy on September 11, 2001, everyone in our town of Hamilton, N.J., as well as people across the nation started to display the American flag to show their patriotism.

But I felt that I wanted to do something special to show our field hockey team's patriotic spirit -- a standout project, not one that just blended in with everyone else's ideas.

The Friday after the attack, my freshman coach, Doreen Walsh, contacted me and told me the story of a high school football team who painted a giant flag on their football field.

The thought struck: Why can't we do that, too?

I have done many outrageous projects before, either for school or for the field hockey team, but I felt this was going to be the best one ever!

The first plan of action was to get permission from my varsity coach, Alyson Setzer. After I got her approval, I was to call our athletic director, Rich Giallella, as well as our school principal, Neil Gilbert.

It took a little courage for me to actually press the numbers on the phone handle; I was afraid they were going to say no, not to mention the fact that they are a couple of very intimidating men.

After getting their enthusiastic support, we decided to locate the flag on a four-foot embankment overlooking our varsity hockey field. We decided not to put the flag right on the field, not only because we would ruin the lines for our games, but we are not supposed to put anything on the field other than the markings in the rule book.

The embankment runs the whole length of our hockey field. Not only would our players and fans get to see the flag, but the entire Steinert High School community would see it, too. The embankment is visible from our school parking lot as well as people traveling down Klockner Road, one of our town's main thoroughfares.

The day after getting the idea from Coach Walsh, I knew I couldn't do this project by myself. We needed some extra hands if we wanted this project to become as big of a success as I had imagined.

I grabbed my freshman coach's cell phone and started making my way down our varsity roster to see if I could find anybody else to help on such short notice. I was able to reach a few players who said they could help for a little bit and would be right over.

We pulled right up onto the field that Saturday afternoon and started to plan out where to paint the Stars and Stripes, as well as the initials "U-S-A," on the embankment overlooking the field.

Our little group took out our spray cans and began. We must have used about 50 spray cans, and it took a lot longer than I thought.

It seemed as though most of the paint was getting on our hands rather than on the grass. I might not be the cleanest artist, but I make my paintings count!

The whole task took us about five hours to complete, but it was all worth it. It not only united our hockey team, but the entire Steinert community. We recieved compliments from all over. The parents talked about it at the games and even all of the administrators came out to the field to look at it.

That flag has faded over time, but over the summer of 2002, we had a chance to make a more permanent statement of spirit.

Over the summer, our field was renovated, leaving a whole bunch of rocks on our field, so we had a day where everyone came to clean up and to pick up the rocks. We also have a little garden underneath our scoreboard, with big rocks in it. After we picked up all of the smaller rocks, I thought it would be cool to paint them red, white, and blue. So the next day a few other teammates brought paint, and we arrange the rocks to make an American flag. This flag will be sitting in the rock garden underneath the scoreboard this season -- and hopefully for many more years to come.

Jennifer Soss is the captain of Hamilton Steinert (N.J.), and a member of the Class of 2002.