Winter Olympic Games Mean Looking Ahead to Tokyo 2020 and Beyond

Feb. 08, 2018, 2:03 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - February 8, 2018 - As the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games get under way, USA Field Hockey would like to wish the best of luck to all the competing United States winter athletes. In a few years time and before we know it, the Olympic flame will burn once more to signify the start the Summer Games. As the most elite event of any sport, field hockey looks to continue to glows on the world stage, including in Los Angeles in 2028 when the United States will return as the host nation. A lot has changed since field hockey was last played at this level in the home of the brave. Take a look back on what has been, and what will soon be, field hockey in America and how USA Field Hockey will lead the charge on developing and preparing for The Games at home.

Fifteen years after the Olympic flame last burned on American soil, it was announced that the city of Los Angeles will be hosts of the Summer Games in 2028, becoming the third city in history to host The Games three times. Ten years from now, how much will the game of field hockey have grown? What hard determined young players will be trotting proudly onto the Olympic pitch wearing the red, white and blue? Whose dreams will become reality this time around in La La Land?

Los Angeles previously hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. While the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games were the most recent in the United States, it has been more than 20 years since the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the last time Olympic field hockey was witnessed in the land of the free. It was the largest field hockey event to unfold in this country up until this past summer at the Pan American Cups in Lancaster, Pa.

The City of Angels has been historically good for Team USA. In 1932, the U.S. Men's National Team took home bronze on the pitch of the iconic Memorial Coliseum. In 1984, the U.S. Women's National Team earned a similar prize just down the road at Weingart Stadium. In 2028, the sport is proposed to be played at StubHub Center Fields, part of the StubHub Center Multi-Sport Complex in Carson, Calif.

The venues and days of 1996 however are not as reflective, much like Herndon Stadium. Nestled on the campus of Morris Brown College, it remains the last stadium in the country that witnessed the Olympic level of competition. A capacity of just over 15,000, Herndon Stadium echoed with international chants and cheers from the preliminary men's and women's rounds to the gold medal games between the men's Netherlands and Spain match, and Australia versus South Korea in women's. Fourteen days of constant action led up to one of the biggest stages in sports.

In an essence, field hockey was the pinnacle of the stadium's personal history.

Since those days, the facility has never been quite as full, as cheerful nor as bone chilling as the final whistles sounded from a previous era. Like many Olympic Venues we have seen in recent decades, Herndon is but a shell of its former self: unkempt and left to erode as time passes it by. In the present day, it is a surreal thought to gaze upon the eroded facility façade and recall that it was the last venue to witness the gold medal game in this nation we call home.

In contrast it is a reminder of how far USA Field Hockey has grown since the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, and with it the hopes of USA reaching the podium at StubHub Center Fields with continued growth of the game across the country.

Three Los Angeles Games, three medals, a three-peat a century in the making. USA has the means to make it a reality right now.

For the USWNT, The Games at Herndon rattle on in USA Field Hockey's Hall of Fame, where a dozen members of the 1996 team have been inducted over the years. Most recently have been Kris Fillat-Buchanan, Kelli James and Antoinette Lucas in 2016. The same goes for the memories at the Coliseum, where the performance by the 1984 U.S. Women's Olympic Bronze Medal Team earned them induction in 2014. 

Though defeated in the quarterfinals in Rio de Janeiro, the women's team is in the midst of a historic rise in world rankings as they continue to prepare for the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup in July before setting eyes on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

If the results seen in 2017 by the USMNT is any indication, Head Coach Rutger Wiese is the man to yield continued success leading up to Tokyo and beyond. Adding to the 1932 bronze is the ultimate goal after all, and in time will pick up where Hall of Famer Manzar Iqbal left off leading the charge for USA at Weingart.

Stadiums come and go, but a dream remains forever. In our modern-day obsession with state of the art facilities, turf, big screens and big lights, field hockey for the men's and women's teams has never been more exuberant. As they continue to pursue personal and team driven goals on the pitch, the times at Herndon can be used as a propellant to Los Angeles, as a symbol to persevere in the shadows of the Coliseum and Weingart. The venue might change, but history lives on. So too does the passion of Team USA, the Olympic virtue and playing at StubHub Center Fields with thousands cheering "USA".

Will that be you in a decade? 

This article is featured in the Fall 2017 issue of FHLife Magazine. To read more inspiring, knowledge-packed and fun features revolving around hockey, fitness, healthy eating and how to strengthen your game, subscribe to our quarterly publication or to order additional copies, clicking here.