Executive Directors Weekly Report Week of March 9

March 12, 2013, 2:26 p.m. (ET)

USA Field Hockey Weekly Report-Week of March 9, 2013

I kept hearing about it; they kept saying that flu shots were only 61% effective so I didn't get one...so, instead I got the flu. Hence, no weekly report last week. My apologies. I will get a shot regardless next year. Getting the flu is just a huge bummer.

Much has happened over the past two weeks. Let's start with the U.S. Men’s Team. That team, coached by Chris Clements, went to RIO for The FIH's World League Round 2 in late February and competed in very difficult environmental conditions (as did our women). Typically the temps were in the 51C degree range (or, 123F degrees) and that was in the shade. Our finish was difficult, however, the bright side is that Chris, with a very limited cast of athletes, is changing the paradigm with a younger group than what we have had before and they gathered valuable experience in RIO. Those in-the-know of international competition recognize that it is cut-throat and athletes really put themselves out there. It is unlike any domestic competition one will find. The intensity is incredible. Developmental specialists will tell you that it takes at least fifteen years to develop Olympic level athletes and that is our focus. So, if you are worried about the progression of our men's team......patience grasshopper......this is a long term project and our male athletes are a terrific bunch from which to build upon.. They deserve our ongoing support.

The U.S. Women’s Team has also returned from RIO after qualifying for the next round of FIH tiered events. Our women were unbeaten and successfully topped the table from the RIO World League Round 2 event and now will progress onward to World League 3 later this year. Craig Parnham heads up this group. Craig is new to his role as Women's National Team head coach as he recently migrated from Great Britain and from his role as Assistant Coach for the GB Bronze medal winning team from the London Olympic Games. Our team is gradually becoming accustomed to Craig's approach and as the weeks go by we will see great excitement generated by this group.

The NIT U19s at Richmond two weekends ago featured a high level of play. 112 teams from around the country played quality competitions. The winners are posted HERE. Our Male U21 and U16 divisions brought into play 65 players, a record participation from males. We are committed to grow the game for both males and females. A high standard of play from some seasoned male internationals, who also mentored the boys, racketed up the quality of play. Some of the athletes in play were introduced to the sport via Fundamental Field Hockey. Liz Tchou, our Youth Development Manager, introduced the notion of building the male side and it is proving to be more than well received. We anticipate that this will lead to more specialized events for boys as time moves along. Lets build on this.

Last weekend it was the turn of the U16s and U14s, who made it through the qualifiers for their chance to compete in Virginia Beach, many for the first time, in a national tournament. College coaches were again in attendance, taking a look at the upcoming generation of athletes. Another wonderful tournament and we continue to see an encouraging growth in the indoor game, particularly with growing demand at the youngest age groups. Many clubs reported that they have U14 athletes who would have loved to be there, stick brands reported that even though they increased orders year on year they were sold out of indoor sticks weeks ago. We will factor this into our planning for next year. As we are committed to providing more quality places to play as we grow the game together. Winners from last weekend can be seen HERE.

It just goes without saying that our umpires are so critical to the success of our events, and over this past two weekends plus the recently completed Disney Showcase our umpires have been just wonderful. It takes literally hundreds of umpires to help in providing these events for our athletes...club owners...and friends and family. Thanks to all the umpires, the umpire managers, and Steve Horgan, USAFH's Commissioner of Umpires..

Lastly, to put what our sport really means to families who have the privilege of having a hockey player here is a story of a family's journey in our sport - I am sure many of you can relate to it. You gotta love field hockey.

Conan: “Last week horse meat was discovered in IKEA's meat balls. This morning it was discovered in IKEA's hot dogs. This is making me think twice about taking my family to dinner at a furniture store.”

Have a great week!!

Steve Locke
Executive Director

USA Field Hockey