Different Uniforms

Sept. 06, 2012, 1:13 p.m. (ET)
Although a vintage telephone booth is not involved with their transformation, in a classic Clark-Kent fashion, the U.S. Men’s National Team keeps two very different uniforms hanging in their wardrobe. 

An itinerary choke-full of games, conditioning, weights and practices is pivotal in training and competing at the national level.  The constant thirst to rank among the world’s best field hockey teams leaves only a few minutes on the clock for anything off of the turf.  Despite the time constraints, members of the U.S. Men’s National Team make sure they have just as much of a presence on a corner as they do in a cubicle. Their chosen career paths outside of field hockey keep their schedule anything less than easy. 

“While I do everything I can to try and improve my game on the field and acquire once in a lifetime opportunities and experiences through hockey, I equally strive to complete my studies in a timely manner,” U.S. Men’s National Team member, Will Holt says. ‘Whether that’s studying for my classes on the plane or in the hotel room, my dedication to receive a degree from a major university is very high.” 
Holt will be attending the University of Louisville in the Fall of 2012 and is on track to earn a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance with a Concentration in Exercise Science. His aspirations of becoming a Physical Therapist, Strength and Conditioning Coach for a DI program, or the field of Sports Science research, keep him focused off of the field. In addition to his studies, Holt will also be assisting the Louisville Field Hockey Team, which permits him to continue training while away at school. But achieving academic success is not a one-man team. Although U.S. Men’s Field Hockey Coach Chris Clements guides the team to greatness on the pitch, the players have yet another coach in the classroom

“I have to thank almost all of my professors for being most supportive of my
field hockey aspirations,” U.S. Men’s National Team member, Steven Mann says. “I have been able to submit work via email from the training center or competition venue and have been exempt from attendance for several classes.” 

The professors even follow the team’s progress online – supporting the U.S. field hockey team wherever their games may take them. And for Mann, his passion for the game and the drive to excel in the field of corporate law, especially mergers and acquisitions, has taken him around the world. Currently, Mann is studying to pass the Bar Examination in Berlin, Germany. Prior to this, he obtained his masters degree at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in Paris, France. Though the team is spread all over, the sometimes excessive transatlantic flights the athletes take don’t affect the cohesiveness of the team.   

“My heart is split between California (Moorpark) and Berlin, where I am currently living,” Mann says. “Obviously my geographic location makes it hard to see my teammates very often, but I try to fly there as much as I can. I regard all of my teammates as friends, and I've known most of them for a while now; somehow it just feels natural when I see them again, even after a considerable time apart.” 

Although some members, like Mann, chose to chase after their aspirations abroad, U.S. Men’s National Team member Jon Ginolfi stays closer to the training center in Chula Vista, CA. Ginolfi landed a spot on the marketing department with the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego where he goes from organizing the middle field at practice to organizing a flash mob for guests as they enter the Hilton lobby.

Pursuing an alternate career path outside of field hockey creates scheduling obstacles but the thought of future success is worth the juggling act.  

“I feel that my career will always be there and if I am taking the appropriate steps to set myself up after hockey then it was all worth it in the end,” say Ginolfi. 

Despite the various locations and various aspirations each player has, being on the U.S. National Team has given all of the athletes an edge in pursing their desired occupations. The players already polished team-orientated mindset and mental toughness from field hockey assists the athletes to reach and exceed their different goals at work. 

Even the players transportation methods to work vary. While most fight through stoplights and crowded streets to make it to the office, Ginolfi fights through the waves of the San Diego Bay to get to work. In an effort to go “green,” Ginolfi bought a paddleboard to travel to work. 

“People talk about their morning commute and traffic all the time,” says Ginolfi. “My version of traffic is dodging a destroyer battle ship or a big tanker. I get a lot of disbelieving looks. I laugh every time I get in that water because I never know what I will go up against that day."

Not willing to sacrifice their work attire or their national uniform, the athletes are driven to uphold excellence in field hockey and at the office. Being a part of the national team is a tremendous experience worth the double-digit hours spent flying across the Atlantic and scrambling to finish essays in between tournaments. 

“It doesn't look too bad on a resume either,” says Holt. 

Kaitlan Mitchell is a freelance contributor for USA Field Hockey