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Field Hockey National Team Members Bring “Uncommon” Coaching Online

By Karen Rosen | Dec. 04, 2020, 1:34 p.m. (ET)

Lauren Moyer, Ashley Hoffman and Amanda Magadan pose together for a photo. 

 

Ashley Hoffman, Amanda Magadan and Lauren Moyer want more people to become as passionate and excited about playing field hockey as they are.

On a national team trip to Argentina last January, they were sitting in their hotel lobby “just chatting about field hockey, like nerds,” Moyer said. “We had been brainstorming for a while that we wanted to offer something online.”

They knew similar team sports like soccer and lacrosse provided online resources and also had an enviable level of engagement on social media.

“Become Uncommon” was born, a coaching group created and managed by the three members of the USA National Field Hockey Team to fill that gap in the market.

“Our brand is we want to create athletes to stand out,” said Hoffman, 24, captain of the women’s national team. “We really wanted to share our experiences from a holistic athlete- type view, so not only coaching and clinics, but also yoga, meditation and food, plus workouts that we do – just everything that you need to become an elite athlete.”

While inspiring and helping athletes achieve more – becoming “uncommon” – they want the sport itself to become more common.

“I literally had no idea this sport even existed prior to high school,” said Magadan, 25, who grew up in New Jersey. “We really wanted to make field hockey cool and hype it up and inspire girls to play it more and grow the game.”

And boys, too. They estimate that about 20 percent of their subscribers are male.

As national team members, the trio has star power and a wealth of information and experience to share. When the pandemic hit, they not only had the time to roll out online curriculums, they knew their backyard drills would be welcomed by athletes whose seasons had shut down.

Once it is safe to hold camps again, they hope to offer in-person instruction.

Hitting the Ground Running

“Become Uncommon” went live in May, rolling out three videos a week and offering introductory, medium and advanced skill levels. They quickly signed up more than 100 subscribers.

The three players are the stars of the videos, setting up tripods, doing the drills and then editing the footage.

With an imminent return to full-time training, they have decided to change their model by offering whole curriculums as a package.

The attacking and defensive videos have been among the most popular.

“People love the shooting drills,” Magadan said. “They’re a lot of fun for you when you’re practicing them and even just to watch.”

By filming sample workouts, they also offer insight into what the national team is doing. Athletes navigating a route to collegiate play can find tips on recruiting.

Their teamwork extends to the company, with Magadan taking charge of business, including partnerships, and email campaigns; Moyer handling marketing, media and the website and Hoffman as the creative force developing the curriculums.

“Beyond Uncommon” also seeks to make field hockey “more accessible to people,” Moyer said.

While the Northeast is a traditional hotbed and pockets of hockey are growing in Texas, Missouri and California, “it is still very much a growing sport in the U.S.” Magadan said. “We want to further that growth and help it in any way we can while also using our platform on the national team to do that.”

The three co-founders had different paths into the sport. Hoffman, who is from Pennsylvania, had a field hockey stick in her hand almost as soon as she could lift it. Her mother, Brenda, won a bronze medal as a member of Team USA at the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984 and has been enlisted to help do  some videos, although Hoffman said, “Most of the time, she’s like, ‘Don’t show me in the video. I don’t want to be in it.’”

Lauren Moyer makes a pass for the U.S. Women's Field Hockey team. 


Choosing Between Sports

Moyer, who is also from Pennsylvania, played both soccer and field hockey. When both became  fall sports her sophomore year in high school, Moyer chose field hockey because she was better at it and burnt out from playing competitive soccer.

Besides, Moyer realized she liked shooting with her hands more than with her feet.

Magadan was a softball player who thought that sport was her ticket to a collegiate program. Looking to play a fall sport and meet new people, her choices were volleyball and field hockey. Being “5-foot-2 on a good day,” she picked up a stick.

Hoffman and Moyer went on to play at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, a field hockey powerhouse under coach Karen Shelton, whose players have been mainstays of Team USA.

Ashley Hoffman competes for the U.S. Women's Field Hockey Team. 


Hoffman, whose primary position is defensive screen, was a two-time All-American at UNC, the 2019 Honda Award winner and won three ACC titles and the 2018 national championship.

“I had watched them play Maryland in the national championship when I was in middle school and immediately you’re just drawn to the Carolina Blue,” said Hoffman, who majored in sociology and minored in education.

It didn’t hurt that her mom knew Shelton as a teammate on the 1984 Olympic team. “She knew I could blossom as a player under her,” said Hoffman.

Shelton became head coach at UNC in 1981 at age 23, and in her 40 years at the helm she has won eight NCAA Championships and 23 ACC titles. The most recent ACC crown came in November, when the Tar Heels were underdogs playing on their home turf in Karen Shelton Stadium. Moyer was a volunteer assistant with the team.


Olympic Opportunities

Five of the 16 players on the 2016 Olympic roster hailed from UNC.

“It’s incredible what Karen Shelton has been able to build down there,” said Moyer, 25. “Because  Carolina attracts that kind of player, you know that every day you go to practice that you’re getting better.”

A forward, Moyer played in the NCAA Final Four all four years and won an ACC championship in 2015. She earned All-ACC and All-NCAA Tournament honors.

Initially, Moyer thought playing for the Tar Heels was out of reach for her.

“I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to go there,” said Moyer, who majored in sociology, “but obviously when I went and I was offered, I almost snapped Karen Shelton’s hand off. It was everything I could have wanted it to be, and more.”

Amanda Magadan is shown in action for Team USA. 

Magadan, a midfielder and defender, went to Lafayette College where she was all-region and All-American.

Her coach, Jennifer Stone, encouraged her to join a USA Field Hockey high performance program, which put her in the national team pipeline.

Magadan, who majored in economics and psychology, believes she is the first player from the Patriot League to earn a spot on the national team.

“It was a lot about proving myself and letting people know that people from the Patriot League can hang with the ACC schools,” she said.


Rebounding from Disappointment

Magadan, Hoffman and Moyer hope to help rebuild the national team after Team USA unfortunately did not make the 12-team field for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The Americans fell short during qualifying in 2019 in India. That led to staff changes, including the hiring of new coach Anthony Farry in October, and the retirement of several players.

“We were one goal way, which is heartbreaking,” Hoffman said. “Not qualifying just proved the desire, the work, the time and effort that it takes to actually make an Olympics, so when we do go – and I’m saying when – it’ll be that much sweeter.”

The national team will move back into a full-time residency program once conditions allow.

“Something as simple as fitness is so much harder when you’re not with the whole team,” said Magadan.

The first step toward regaining international prominence is qualifying for the world cup in 2022, and then for the 2024 Paris Games. As host country, the United States has an automatic berth in Los Angeles in 2028 and the three “Become Uncommon” co-founders hope to play there, bucking the trend of Team USA athletes retiring at age 23 or 24.

“Before COVID hit,” Hoffman said, “it was really trying to navigate how do we grow and create a new culture while still holding onto the best parts of the last squad?”

Their teammates have been supportive of “Become Uncommon,” liking and commenting on videos. Some helped out at their first clinic, organized by Magadan a couple of months ago, and the co-founders hope to add team members as full-time or guest coaches.

Hoffman, who recently returned from playing professionally in Holland, is trying to incorporate some of what the Dutch teach their youth into the “Become Uncommon” curriculum.

And she believes young players are receptive to learning directly from the national team.

“I think they like that it is us coaching them,” Hoffman said, “so anyone who watches our videos gets to know us as players a little bit more.”

And that’s uncommon. 

Related Athletes

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Ashley Hoffman

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Amanda Magadan

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Lauren Moyer