Executive Director Weekly Report

Oct. 16, 2012, 2:24 p.m. (ET)

USA Field Hockey Weekly Report-Week of October 15, 2012

Last week was a week of significance for our high performance programs as the mutual decision by USA Field Hockey and several high performance principals to depart was announced. The dynamic in high performance and in much of sport is constantly evolving. As a result, the personalities needed to guide our pathways are constantly evolving as well. A person appointed to a position at a certain point in time may work well, but as time moves along and the dynamics change, differing skill-sets are often needed. 

Over the 2 years and 314 days I have been in place as executive director, much of our dynamic has changed through efforts by our staff and the USA Field Hockey Board of Directors. In the development area, we created a new program, FUNdamental Field Hockey led by 1996 Olympian Liz Tchou, with a purpose of having a program that was sustainable through the introduction of kids from ages 7-11 to the sport and introducing those same kids to local clubs by association so they could continue to participate in the sport if the program created the child’s internal buzz. The program is in its infancy but from all appearances it looks like it will be a home run and will attract thousands of young boys and girls. Good on Liz and her teammates, Courtney Tavener and Simone Attles.

A couple of years ago we created the USA Field Hockey National Club Championship (NCC) with the intent that this new property (event) would be ever growing. Ever growing meant that over time we would create more age groups for girls/women, eventually age group club championship opportunities for boys/men, and eventually-eventually the creation of post collegiate opportunities to compete for men and women. After two years of the NCC, we broadened the scope to include qualifiers (the first year was on a first-come first-served basis to see if the property resonated with the membership). It did resonate so qualifiers were developed and an U14 age group for girls was put into place. Our next step will be for boys, and then for age groups beyond the college level as promised and speculated in the creation of the plan. Everything takes time, and we are providing these opportunities in a conservative manner to be sure we get things right so to present premium events and activities for our constituencies. 

Now back to the high performance principals in USA Field Hockey who will soon leave the program. Terry Walsh, Technical Director, and Lee Bodimeade, Women’s National Team Coach, are both Australians who have within them the traditional wonderfully warm Aussie charisma. Both have taken the USA program to the level of qualifying for the Olympic Games in both 2008 and 2012. Only twelve nations of the 127 nations practicing the game globally make it to that level. Terry led much progress in how we coach our sport and develop our athletes. Both are good guys and were productive.                                                                                                                                                                              
It has been the recent modus operandi of USA Field Hockey to examine our programming through the use of constituency based task forces. This has been done with club development, the Futures program, the Men’s side of pipeline development, and youth development. We decided some time ago that this process needed to be done for our high performance program as well, but in a somewhat different fashion. First, we needed for the Olympic Games to play out. They did, and we experienced some disappointment. After the Olympic Games, an assessment group was put into place. Early on we found that high performance programs are often dogged by the reality that the resolution of issues is often fogged by internal passionate differences of opinion or philosophical approaches. As a result, internally we could find ourselves in the trees with no objective resolution apparent, and determined it was a good approach to use a third party person with vast global experience who has a good look at the forest (and, sorry for the metaphor use but I hope you get the drift) as the chair of the assessment group. We did this with Dr. Peter Davis, Ph.D., a person with far reaching global experience and a person who is constantly in demand from countries asking for assessments similar to the one he is working on for us. The assessment group ably supported Peter and provided depth and variety of hockey perspectives.

Peter has issued to us a preliminary report and will complete a final report soon. Peter recognizes in his report that while we have stepped up over the past two quads, we have the opportunity now to infuse new energy into the program as we approach Rio’s 2016 Olympic Games. He never speaks disparagingly of either Terry or Lee, but recognizes that we all run a course in the pathway, and both guys will be valued assets for other global opportunities that come along.

We will now embark on a recruitment process. This week I will appoint a selection committee to advise me. I am confident that we will attract world class candidates to lead our High Performance program and our Women’s National Team.  I intend for the recruitment process to be thorough, measured, and objective. I also intend for it to be completed by the end of 2012 so that we can have positions filled to lead our team in to 2013 and the inaugural World League competition. As an organization we are committed to success and we have good reason to be very optimistic for a bright future as we build to Rio 2016. We have never had a more talented elite athlete pool; we have never committed more resources financially to our High Performance programming than now; and we have never had more players playing our sport as we continue to build an ever stronger base.
Ben Maruquin and Mike Whitehead held the first free boys clinic in Moorpark this past Saturday with great results.  Over 50 boys showed up, while staff and others were able to set up various skill drills, ending in play.  Moorpark is also host to the Cal Cup, one of the most exciting tournaments run in the USA over Memorial Day Weekend.  Three more clinics will be run this weekend at the following locations – Stanford University, The Training Center in Spring City, PA and Victory Field in Watertown, MA.  The clinics are also coupling as tryouts for the Junior National Squads.  Men's National Team Head Coach, Chris Clements, will head up the East Coast clinics. For more info or to register for a clinic, visit usafieldhockey.com. 

In addition, on Friday, October 12, U.S. Men’s National Team member, Alex Grassi paid a visit to a Fundamental Field Hockey clinic in Rockville, Maryland. The Fundamental Field Hockey program at Wheaton Woods Elementary is headed by local coach and teacher, Cay Miller. Over 50 elementary school students attended the clinic on Friday, with more than half of those participants being male.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: “Kim Kardashian said in a new interview that her next wedding will be on a private island with no TV cameras. Which raises a lot of questions, like, “If a Kardashian does something but there are no cameras, did it actually happen?”
Have a great week!

Steve Locke
Executive Director 
USA Field Hockey