USA Field Hockey Weekly Report-Week of June 13, 2011

June 14, 2011, 3:06 p.m. (ET)
USA Field Hockey Weekly Report-Week of June 13, 2011  

We are entering a very critical period for both the USA Field Hockey National Women’s and Men’s Teams. Ultimately, it is all about establishing ourselves with both genders internationally so we are consistently performing well in competition. The end target for both sets of teams is qualification for the Olympic Games. Remembering that the FIH has 127 member nations and only 12 member nation teams qualify for the Olympic Games. It is a struggle getting in and then performing well.  The key to success is to constantly play in competition against the best in the world, pile on ranking points, and achieve confidence in the level of our play. We are getting there, but the time has come to provide the proof in this pudding. 


Firstly, the USA Field Hockey Women’s National Team (WNT) is off to the FIH ESB Electric Ireland Champions Challenge I in Ireland. They left yesterday and will be in competition later in the week. The key message is about winning and thereby earning  entry to the FIH Champions Trophy which is where we want to be. The FIH Champions Trophy competition consist of the best eight countries in annual international competition. The FIH Champions Trophy will be held in January 2012, and will be in Mar del Plata, Argentina. If our national teams achieve success in these tournaments, that success will go a long way in elevating our FIH world ranking status.

Welcome to the newest member of the WNT who will be on tour for the first time.  Michelle Cesan currently plays collegiately for Princeton, and we anticipate great contributions from her as she gains international experience.


The Pan American Games loom later this year for both women’s and men’s teams. The 2011 Pan American Games will be staged in Mexico in October.  For both groups, this is the first opportunity to qualify for the London Olympic Games. The gold medalist country from the Pan Am Games from each gender’s team will qualify. Without a doubt, the Pan Am Games will be our target opportunity for the year for both men and women as we compete at a regional high level of international competition.


Now to the men. The men leave for Lille, France the first week in July to compete in the FIH Champions Challenge II. The winner of CC II is then eligible to compete in the FIH Champions Challenge I. These international competitions are all about winning and accumulating FIH ranking points. It is all a process leading to World Cup play and the Olympic Games.


Both our men and our women have set high standards for themselves and have great expectations for their upcoming performances. Their time has come and our expectations are high as well.


USA Field Hockey inks partnerships with several new sponsors We are delighted to welcome several new commercial partners who have signed multi-year agreements with USA Field Hockey in recent weeks. They are Rudy Project (sunglasses), SCG & Sportexe (turf), Ludus (tours), and White Mountain Sports (videography). We look forward to working with these brands who lead in their respective fields to both strengthen their businesses and enhance the hockey experience for all. Please do give them a warm welcome when you see them at events. They have chosen to invest in our sport, and we are delighted that they share our passion for hockey.


Christine Battcock and Katelyn Nerbonne, from the national office, will be ably looking after our relationship with our new sponsors. 


To introduce you to each, here is a little snapshot:



Rudy Project provide ‘technically cool’ sunglasses and other stuff for athletes. Their products are the very best in the market, proudly worn by our National Team players and coaches and in one word are ‘cool’.

SCG & Sportexe are the guys behind most of the best field hockey artificial surfaces across the country, and will work with us at all our events to host a college coaches hospitality room.
Ludus Tours are the people to work with for once-in-a-lifetime trips to follow USA in the Olympics and Pan Am Games. Keep an eye out as these dream trips become available…
White Mountain Sports is the best available in providing athlete videography at events as well as further recruiting services 

The USA Field Hockey U12 Development Task Force is newly appointed and about to get underway in its work. June 21st will mark the first conference call for the group. They will tackle a fundamental issue within sport of building the base. More on that later. The new appointees are chair Dr. Tej Singh (Stanford, CA), Barbara Liles (Chicago, Il), Tom Harris (Moorpark, CA), Marian Connelly (Greenland, New Hampshire), Cyndie Slagle (King of Prussia, PA), Tina Reinprecht (Perkasie, PA) and USAFH staff members Joe Wagstaffe (Chula Vista, CA), and Simon Hoskins (Colorado Springs, CO).


For any sport to become a successful, mainstream sport, and for growth to occur, much attention needs to be devoted to building the base. For hockey, the base should begin in the early elementary schoolyears. Hockey is a skill sport and many years are needed to learn stick handling skills and fundamentals of the game. For potential elite players that is a key; but, more importantly, for those youngsters wanting to participate in a life-long and life-style sport, learning to play the sport better increases the enjoyment of playing.


Some givens:


·         Our current membership numbers show around 1,100 U12 players (1,050 are girls and 50 are boys)

·         The USA Field Hockey targeted growth areas are principally oriented around clubs

·         USA Field Hockey has 217 registered clubs of various sizes, shapes, and sophistication


The general purpose of the task force is how to grow U12. The mission will be:

1.       Provide advice on the creation of a program that encourages 10,000 U12 girls and boys, from across the country, to trial our sport annually starting in 2013.

2.      Provide advice on sustainability: converting these trial participants to regular players through links and relationships to clubs, community-based organizations, and/or schools 

3.       Provide advice on solutions how to physically place beginner sticks and balls in the hands of U12 beginning athletes
The key for this task force will be to determine programming directions that are both effective and sustainable. In the past, USA Field Hockey has had a variety of programs that were one-offs and not sustainable. We threw money at a problem and the problem did not resolve itself. This time we want to find programs and people involved with those programs that are assured long term developers of U12 hockey athletes. 

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: ‘The Anthony Weiner scandal shows that despite the wars and the economy, we’re all really still in 9th grade.’


Have a great week!

Steve Locke  
Executive Director
USA Field Hockey