Colorado Springs, Colo. - This past April, USA Field Hockey announced its Grow the Game campaign to members and fans. The initiative was created in an effort to spread awareness of the sport and inspire greater participation nationwide. Since April, thousands have joined the movement and supported ‘Grow the Game’ in their own way, including hosting a youth clinic, training umpires at their club, or donating in support of sport development programs.
“The response from our membership has been very encouraging. Our community is one that is excited to share this amazing sport with the next generation of boys and girls” said Executive Director, Steve Locke.
In an effort to spread awareness, USA Field Hockey first made a commitment to provide additional resources for adults, youth and men on the website and at events. In this ongoing effort, we hope to provide accurate and complete information, including playing opportunities across the country for all members. We’ve also worked with USA Field Hockey Umpire Director, Steve Horgan, to provide resources and promote recruitment to new umpires. The sport development flagship program, FUNdamental Field Hockey, has helped to increase awareness throughout the year ranging from events like the 135th Easter Egg Roll at The White House to hosting free clinics at local parks and rec. The program, which provides free equipment and teaching tools, has exposed over 25,000 children to the sport since its inception in 2012. For more information on how you can get involved or find FUNdamental Field Hockey programs in your area, click here.
Finally, this past September, USA Field Hockey also celebrated its second year of National Field Hockey Day. Several of you helped us celebrate by sharing the sport with a friend or family member, playing or watching a match, and of course, tweeting and instagramming while you did. For a look back at National Field Hockey Day 2013, click here. And mark your calendars… Next year’s National Field Hockey Day will be celebrated Saturday, September 13, 2014.
In addition to spreading awareness, Grow the Game is all about getting people playing. USA Field Hockey has encouraged increased participation through many of its programs and initiatives, most at little or no cost. In 2013, we again saw children picking up a stick for the first time through FUNdamental Field Hockey. There was also the introduction of new infrastructure to not just have them pick up a stick, but to continue to play in local leagues and clubs, which will be fully rolled out in January 2014. USA Field Hockey also launched its first year of the You Go Girl program, which teamed up with urban universities to teach the sport to girls in the community. The program will run again in 2014 starting in early January.
Meanwhile in an exciting year for men’s and boy’s field hockey, USA Field Hockey again committed to hosting introductory boys clinics, free of charge, in emerging areas such as Virginia Beach, Virg. and Miami, Fla. In late spring, USA Field Hockey hosted the Adult Task Force, which has evaluated and made recommendation for adult playing opportunities in the U.S. Finally, adding additional divisions to national USA Field Hockey tournaments will allow for increased participation at our existing events.
Even with the commitment USA Field Hockey has made to grow the game, none of this would be possible with the support of passionate members. This past year we’ve seen new clubs offer boys training, former players and coaches organizing first time tournaments and parents and siblings teaching their youngest. Rye Field Hockey Club was one of the first to be recognized for their commitment to youth and boys development after being crowned the champion of the first ever Grow the Game Video Contest in May. To award their commitment to growing the game, Dita donated over $1,000 worth of indoor equipment that will be used to create a boys indoor league this winter.
"Rye FHC is extremely pleased to have received new equipment from Dita for the 'Grow the Game' contest," said a club representative. "We used the prize money to purchase new indoor field hockey equipment to help set up a boys indoor program. Rye hopes to grow the boys program to feed into our adult men's league team and ultimately the USA Men's National Team program."
In 2014, USA Field Hockey’s Grow the Game campaign will look to introduce even more opportunities for participation and education, including additional equipment options and resources through FUNdamental Field Hockey, more playing opportunities for boys and adults, a more comprehensive You Go Girl program, and additional teaching tools for new coaches and umpires.
Looking for ways you can ‘Grow the Game’? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the official Grow the Game tent at National Hockey Festival in West Palm Beach County, Fla later this month.