2013 FUNdamental Field Hockey Report

March 25, 2014, 1:51 p.m. (ET)

USA Field Hockey's Senior Sport Development Manager, Liz Tchou, shares her insights and the success of the FUNdamental Field Hockey program through 2013.

We are incredibly proud of the way the field hockey community has embraced FUNdamental Field Hockey, which is now entering its third cycle. It is the volunteer spirit that is essential to growing the game and we could not do this without the help of our members, clubs and presenting sponsor, Harrow Sports.

In 2013, 189 new FUNdamental Field Hockey programs were established to reach a total of 29,025 boy and girl participants to date.  With the addition of the retained programs from 2012, 212 elementary and middle schools, 122 community/recreations organizations, 53 other programs (which consisted of a combination of programs such as camps, clinics and after-school programs) and 22 college-based youth programs ran the program in 2013. 

FUNdamental Field Hockey has continued to gain national media coverage and recognition in the last year. In early April, USA Field Hockey was invited to participate in the 135th Easter Egg Roll at The White House where more than 30,000 children and family were in attendance. The Sport Development Team will return this year in hopes to continue to grow the game. Last summer, the program gained attention of the Pan American Hockey Federation who requested the curriculum be translated into Spanish and made available to their whole membership (it currently resides on their home page).  In October, the United States Olympic Committee identified FUNdamental Field Hockey as one of six ‘best practice’ programs to be presented to the Multi-Sport Organization Council at the Olympic and Paralympic Assembly.

FUNdamental Field Hockey has also continued to receive outstanding support from sponsors and partners. Specifically, Harrow Sports and Procter & Gamble, who provide greatly valued equipment and financial support to the program. USA Field Hockey is very grateful for their support and their commitment to growing field hockey with us.  As the program continues into 2014, we’ve renewed our partnerships and with the help of newly appointed Regional Development Managers, we will continue to support, educate and provide youth playing opportunities to each region of the country. 

During the last two years, USA Field Hockey has had more than 29,000 participants at nearly 450 sites to date. That’s more than 10,000 field hockey sticks, provided by Harrow Sports, that we have been able to provide to schools, rec centers, and youth leagues. While FUNundamental Field Hockey has seen immense success in its first two years, the Sport Development Team continues to implement best practices and new strategies to make it even more impactful.

One of the first improvements, USA Field Hockey has made is the retention of existing programs. 225 of the 250 programs that signed up in 2012 were retained and continued for a second year in 2013. The Sport Development Team is working to reuse the equipment from the 30 other programs to ensure that the sticks and balls are being used on a year-round basis. We’ve also identified main reasons for lack of retention in programs including teacher turnover and low numbers.

As we learned more about how the FUNdamental Field Hockey program could further improve, we came into contact with school district leaders who have been instrumental in implementing the program on a larger scale. In 2012, we traveled to Miami and introduced field hockey to 183 PE elementary school teachers. In 2013, we ran a Professional Development Day in Palm Springs as well as a Kids Festival in the same area, following the lead of other sports such as lacrosse, rugby and soccer.  We identified areas where there is interest and infrastructure to build the sport around field hockey clubs, youth programs,and MSO’s,and interest from parents, players, PE teachers, even principals that would be open to our sport.  We saw this as a broad-based, bottom-up approach to get field hockey in and around communities, with the eventual goal of having it become a part of the culture there. 

In 2014, several more school districts that have expressed interest in field hockey:  Washington DC Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Miami/Palm Beach County.  USA Field Hockey’s staff has also identified the need to have a local staff member, not only to build on Fundamental Field Hockey, but also the need to guide other pillars of field hockey interest in order to keep the sport growing: Olympic Camps, Club, Coaching, Umpiring, Youth, Boys development to Adult play and providing support, education and opportunities in all of these areas.  The current plan to add regional development managers could not come at a better time.  

Of course, none of this outreach would work without the help and support of clubs.  Clubs are the lifeblood of the sport as they provide kids with an option to continue the sport for recreation and competition.  For the FUNdamnetal Field Hockey hosts, the clubs were a phone call away for hosts to ask questions about the game of field hockey.  At the most, we’ve had clubs actually taking equipment into area schools and running an after-school program with the option for  kids to join their clubs. 

As we move in to 2014 we continue to listen, learn and take feedback from the field hockey community, particularly those who have committed time and energy to running the program in their communities. Retention of programs from year to year as well as young athletes who have their first field hockey experience through the program remains a priority. I am immensely proud of our Sports Development staff who are so passionate and so positive about our sport and have inspired so many to get involved with growing the game. FUNdamental Field Hockey is just one, albeit large, aspect of what they do. 

See the full PDF of numbers and statistics of the FUNdamental Field Hockey program here.