Tom Harris Celebrates 41st Year Running Cal Cup
Family heirlooms traditionally consist of faded pictures, foreign coins and vintage rings, treasured items with great sentiment.
Tom Harris is redefining the modern day heirloom because from generation to generation he has passed something along to his son, nephews and granddaughters that cannot be physically held or contained within the parameters of a box – a pure, raw passion for field hockey.
Tom, a dedicated field hockey enthusiast and creator of the Cal Cup Tournament, is entering his 41st year of heading the event. What began as a small tournament has grown into a selection process during Memorial Day weekend for the Men’s U-17, U-20 and Senior National Team squad. The nation’s best competitors in the country will be gathering on the campus of Moorpark College near Los Angeles in Southern California tomorrow in hopes of earning a spot on the U.S. Men's National Team. In fact it’s the same try-out process that previously selected Tom’s nephews Pat and Sean to represent Team USA - yet another form of verification that the passion has been passed.
usafieldhockey.com caught up with Tom prior to the start of the event to get his thoughts on 2013 Cal Cup.
USA Field Hockey: How did Cal Cup get its start?
TH: The tournament started with just six teams in 1972. We had one grass field and no real umpires. I didn’t even know how to really put a schedule together but over the years it became like Sudoku, just like the type of puzzle I enjoy solving. With the help of passionate volunteers this event has really evolved – from the amount of divisions we’ve added to the number of participants. It’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown from decade to decade.
USA Field Hockey: How many are expected to attend this year?
TH: We’re looking at a number of roughly 2,000 players a number that has only risen with time.
USA Field Hockey: Field hockey seems to be enjoyed by most in your family. Do any other of your family members assist with Cal Cup?
TH: Besides my nephews Pat and Sean who play, a lot of my other family members are involved in this event. My brother looks after the main table and my wife does a lot of running around for Cal Cup too. My older son works the exhibitor’s tent and his wife helps with registration. My granddaughters even chip in and help out during the tournament.
USA Field Hockey: What do you accredit to the success and longevity of Cal Cup?
TH: We have developed a nine-person committee that meets every month all year long. It’s a composed of a very talented people. What started as a few buddies mapping out a small tournament grew to a real organizing committee. It’s a major fundraiser for the sport.
USA Field Hockey: You only started playing field hockey in 1970, two years before the introduction of Cal Cup. Where does your love of field hockey come from?
TH: I used to play baseball and softball but field hockey is by far the most interesting sport. You’re on the field running around and working as unit with your team. Field hockey has always been appealing to me. This sport has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people and travel around the world.
USA Field Hockey: This passion is an heirloom you have passed down to your nephews and National Team members Sean and Pat. What is one of your first field hockey memories with them?
TH: I still remember the day Patrick tried out for the National Team in San Diego when he was 12 years old. He might have been younger side but boy did he have the talent. That’s one of my favorite memories.
USA Field Hockey: What is the one piece of advice you have for all of this year’s Cal Cup participants to have a successful performance?
TH: Don’t take the game too seriously. Some guys go out there and hit each other with sticks and act a little too rough. Well, that just gets you kicked out of the tournament. This is meant to bring great athletes together and meet new people while having a good time.
USA Field Hockey: You have played in every Cal Cup tournament since its commencement. Will you be putting on shin guards this year?
TH: You can count on it.
Be sure to stay tuned to usafieldhockey.com and @USAFieldHockey for the latest Cal Cup U-20 coverage!