U.S. Junior Men’s and Women’s Squad to compete at Australian Youth Olympic Festival

Jan. 14, 2013, 12:42 p.m. (ET)

U.S. Junior Men’s and Women’s Squad to compete at Australian Youth Olympic Festival;
Parsley Named Flag Bearer for U.S. 
Northwestern's Nikki Parsley has been named Flag Bearer for the U.S. and will march the 
U.S. delegation into Opening Ceremonies on January 16

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The sixth Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) promises to be the biggest and most exciting edition yet, with more competing countries and aspiring Olympians than ever before. Over 1,700 of the world’s best young athletes from 30 nations will compete in 17 Olympic sports in Sydney, Australia from January 16-20, 2013. The U.S. Junior Men’s and Women’s Field Hockey Squads will be amongst the 1,700 elite athletes competing at this year’s Youth Olympic Festival.  

Field Hockey will be played at the Sydney Olympic Park with seven other sports, including: athletics, gymnastics, swimming, diving, hockey, badminton, judo and wrestling. The U.S. Junior Women will face China, Great Britain and Australia while the U.S. Junior Men will go head to head against Great Britain, Malaysia and host nation Australia. The gold medal match will be played on the final day of competition on January 20. 

The U.S. Women’s U-21 Team recently completed a successful four game test series against New Zealand, finishing with a 3-1 record. Steve Jennings, U-21 Head Coach and Head Coach at American University commented on the team’s productive series and their anticipation for Youth Olympic Festival to begin. 

“We had a productive series against New Zealand--growing as a team in many facets and finding ways to get our offense on track after the initial game,” said Jennings. “We still have many areas targeted for improvement and will look to raise our standard of play in Australia. The spirit of the group is fantastic and the seriousness with which they have approached matches, training sessions, recovery sessions and debriefs bode well for them as we head into the second leg of the tour. The Olympic Festival is a perfect snap shot of what it takes to compete in a tournament setting against world class opposition. It will be the cornerstone event to galvanize our team as the Junior World Cup journey begins in earnest.”  

Lara (Nikki) Parsley (Milford, DE) was named the flag bearer for the United States and will lead the U.S. delegation into Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies Parade of Nations on January 16.  

“It is always an honor to play for the red, white, and blue; but, competing for my country at the highest level possible in the 2016 Olympics would turn a lifelong dream into reality,” said Parsley.

Parsley is a junior at Northwestern University and has earned many accolades in her three years as a Wildcat. She joined the U.S. U-21 Junior National Team in 2010 and most recently helped the U.S. to a bronze medal finish at the 2012 Pan American Junior Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

The AYOF is a bi-annual multi-sport event for Olympic aspirants between the ages of 12 and 20. The first AYOF was held in 2001 and utilizes many of the same venues used during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The AYOF Opening Ceremony incorporates the symbolism of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, including: Parade of Athletes, Flag Bearers March, Welcome by Mr. John Coates AC, President of the Australian Olympic Committee, Festival Oath by two AYOF athletes, Olympic Flag Raising, Cauldron Lighting with Festival Flame, and an Olympic Celebration with a spectacular presentation of music, song and dance that will inspire and captivate all the athletes, officials, family and friends. 

The view the schedule of competitions and additional AYOF information, please visit usafieldhockey.com. 

U.S. Junior Women’s Team Roster: Abby Beltrani, Marie Bolles, Emma Bozek, Teresa Benvenuti, Lauren Blazing, Laura Gebhart, Katherine Gerzabek, Maxine Fluharty, Kelsey Harbin, Dani Hemeon, Aileen Johnson, Kati Nearhouse, Jordan Page, Lara Parsley, Taylor Rhea, Kelsey Smither, Anna Zarkoski

U.S. Junior Men’s Team Roster: Tyler Sundeen, Christian Linney, Ranjot Sangha, Austin Groeneveld, Pedro Zepada, Nicholas Gendreau, Jaspreet Gill, Michael Barminski Jr., Mohan Gandhi, Ranveer Kundi, Rutger Pruijs, Ajai Dhadwal, Aki Kaeppeler, Sean Cicchi, Spencer Reed, Johnny Orozco