USA Field Hockey

Olympians motivate field hockey players

July 31, 2014, 3:52 p.m. (ET)

*Article courtesy of Democrat & Chronicle

Olympian motivate field hockey players
Stars appear at camp to give tips, advice

It's not every day a pair of Olympians drop by Fairport.

The few dozen girls at the Olympic field hockey youth camp at Turin Swim and Sports Club ranging from fifth grade to incoming seniors were given a little extra motivation for participating in this week's camp.

Jackie Briggs and Julia Reinprecht were both on the 2012 Olympic team and the 2014 World Cup team from a month ago, which made it to the semifinals.

Several Olympians have been going to camps like the one in Fairport throughout the country trying to promote the game to a younger generation of girls picking up a stick.

"We want to get the young kids excited and it's always great when a kid comes to a camp like this and leaves loving the sport and is interested in it," said Reinprecht. "It hopefully helps grow our sport and maybe some people from Rochester will be on the national team in the future."

Reinprecht grew up in a field hockey family with both of her sisters playing the sport, including her sister Katie, who is also on the National team. Reinprecht's mother is also on the board of directors for USA field hockey and was her coach growing up.

Briggs is a goalkeeper for Team USA and said she has been a goalkeeper since her first day playing the sport, mostly out of fear.

"I lived next to the high school and went over there in the summer to play pickup games and they knew they needed a goalie in the future, so the coach asked me to try goalie and I was too afraid to say no," Briggs said. "I came home that day with a set of old pads and my dad told me, 'I sent you over to play field hockey, not football'. But I've played ever since."

This past week, Finger Lakes Field Hockey took a U-14 team to Florida to compete in the Disney Showcase for the first time.

Grace Herron, an eighth grader at Calkins Road Middle School, was on the team that went to Florida. She had played ice hockey for years but switched to field hockey the last two seasons. She said the experience being coached by Olympians is far different than her regular coaches.

"It's really an honor because they've been in the tough situations," she said. "They're Olympians and they've up against the best in the world."

Wendy Andreatta is the field hockey coach at the University of Rochester and is the organizer of the camp. Her enthusiasm for the sport was unmatched by anyone else at Turin Swim Club this week.

"Field hockey is my passion, I love it more than anything," Andreatta said. "I've loved it ever since I've picked up a stick and it's one of those sports I wish it had more attention. It changes every year and it grows more and more exciting for spectators and coaches."

Mendon head coach Kara Carpenter took over the program seven years ago and has been organizing camps for girls from first through sixth grades to prepare them for the modify season.

She said the skill level from the girls who come to camp at an earlier age compares to those years older than those who start at the modified level.

"This past year 90 percent of our modify team has come to our camps the last couple of years and instead of teaching basic fundamentals, you can coach gameplay and strategies," Carpenter said. "We have a group of fifth and sixth graders that have been coming to the camps the last couple years and their skill level is comparable to eighth and ninth graders."

One of the major hurdles field hockey has to jump over as a sport is the competition of other sports, especially soccer. But it's an issue that the coaches and Olympians are trying to fix with camps like this.

"I think other sports are so popular that it's natural for parents to see a soccer ball and have their kids try soccer," said Reinprecht. "I don't think there are as many programs that start at a young age in field hockey. It's a combination of being available at a young age and is it more fun than soccer but that's why we are here. The camp is to get young kids interested."

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