COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – July 12, 2019 – USA Field Hockey is pleased to announce the eight coaches that have been selected to coach at the 2019 AAU Junior Olympic Games on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. from July 29 to August 1. Known as the largest national multi-sport event for youth in the United States, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Games provides U-16 girl athletes the chance to experience the Olympic-like, multi-sport competition while enjoying the camaraderie and inspiration from top athletes in other featured sports.
Athlete selections for this year’s event were confirmed following the conclusion of the 2019 National Futures Championship (NFC), presented by Harrow Sports, which was held at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. from June 20 to 28.
Coaches were selected following an extensive application process which required current USA Field Hockey Coach Members to hold a minimum Level 2 Certification and ideally hold a player-centric philosophy who is highly proficient in teaching junior high-performance players in the U-16 age group. Applicants were chosen by USA Field Hockey’s Coach Education and Learning department.
Congratulations and a big thank you to the following volunteer coaches who were selected to coach this year’s AAU Junior Olympic Games teams:
Chookagian has served as a USA Field Hockey coach with the Souderton Strikers Field Hockey Club since 2017, working as an assistant coach with ten different indoor and outdoor teams ranging from U-10 to U-19. He started playing in high school before joining the men's East Coast High Performance Team for the 2014-15 season, where they went on to win a gold medal at the California Cup in the U-19 age division. He has volunteered the past two years for the Learn to Play and Goalkeeper Showcase sessions at the National Hockey Festival, presented by CranBarry.
Chookagian recently received a bachelor's degree in business administration with a focus in sport and recreation management from Nova Southeastern University. He holds Level 1 and Level 2 Coaching Certifications through USA Field Hockey and is currently working with the Souderton Strikers under club manager Michelle Waldspurger.
"Youth sports is about much more than winning,” commented Chookagian, "In a few short days, this experience will give me the chance to help these athletes to be the greatest version of themselves on and off the field. I'm counting the days until I can step on the pitch and work with some of top athletes from around the country!"
Ciufo was named the head coach of Temple field hockey in January 2019. A former standout for the Drexel Dragons and a five-year member of the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team, she spent the previous four seasons amassing a record of 54-27 as the head coach at Stonehill College.
Offense was Stonehill’s staple over Ciufo’s four seasons, with the Skyhawks finishing first or second in the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) each year and ranked in the top-six nationally each season as well. The Skyhawks led the NCAA Division II with 4.10 goals per game in 2017 and also led the NE10 with 3.38 goals per game in 2015 to rank second nationally that year.
"I am very excited to work with such a talented group of young women this summer,” said Ciufo. “As someone who once went through the same process as they are now, I am excited to use what I have learned as a player and coach to help them reach their dreams. These athletes are at critical stage of their development so it's important to have people in place to help educate them on what is necessary to play at the next level. The AAU Junior Olympics is a great opportunity to take their development to the next level and I am so excited to be a part of it."
Dinsmore has served as a USA Field Hockey coach for the NFC the past two years. She has coached in the Futures Program since 2015 and has been a site director for Region 8 for the last two years. She also holds a Level 2 Certification. Dinsmore is entering her third season as assistant coach at Appalachian State University, under former U.S. Women’s National Team player and head coach Meghan Dawson.
"I am very excited to coach this year at Junior Olympics,” said Dinsmore. “All of these athletes have worked very hard to reach this point in their development and I am honored to coach such a talented young group. I can't wait to get out on the field. This tournament is going to be the highlight of the summer!"
Kiddoo has been selected for the second time as an AAU Junior Olympic Games coach. She has served as a coach for the Futures Program for three years in Regions 7 and 8, and recently coached the U-19 Barcelona squad to a silver medal in the NFC. After spending four seasons at Appalachian State, she joined the staff at the University of Delaware as an assistant coach this past spring.
"After experiencing the AAU Junior Olympic Games last year with such a talented and great group of athletes and peers, I am honored to get the opportunity to return,” said Kiddoo. “I can't wait to get started with this year's group. The enthusiasm to learn and grow among these athletes is incredible, their energy is palpable and I am humbled to be a part of this experience!"
Lewis has a long track record serving as a USA Field Hockey coach in the NFC, Futures Program and AAU Junior Olympic Games. He has also been involved with the U.S. Men's National Team programs, Identification Camps, Regional and National Training and Junior National Team tours.
Lewis played over ten years on the USMNT, with 98 international caps, highlighted with a bronze medal at the 1995 Pan American Games in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be invited once again to coach at the AAU Junior Olympic Games,” said Lewis. “With the top talented youth selected from across the United States, I look forward to an exciting tournament.”
Loncarica was selected to be an assistant coach for the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team in February, most recently coaching with the team at the Three Nations Invitational in Germany. With the U-21 team, she assists with planning practices, evaluating players and works with the team’s offensive unit in addition to handling video analysis and serving as the squad’s media contact.
Loncarica rejoined the Saint Joseph’s University field hockey coaching staff for the 2019 season. She spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach at the College of William & Mary. A three-time All-American, Loncarica graduated as Syracuse’s all-time leader in career points with 139 and holds the Orange’s career record with 65 assists. A team captain as a senior, she earned a Syracuse University Team Award in 2011 after being named the school's Female Athlete of the Year in 2010.
Loncarica graduated in 2012 and is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She played for the Buenos Aires All-Star team in 2005 and 2006. She graduated from Syracuse with a bachelor's degree in nutrition and earned her master’s in nutrition science in 2015.
"The future of the game is dependent upon the development of the youth," said Loncarica. "It’s nothing but a privilege to have been selected by USA Field Hockey to be a part of this critical stage of learning. I look forward to sharing my experience and love for the game. I hope they get to enjoy this tournament and carry on that enthusiasm through out their hockey careers.
Morgan has served as a site director at the Region 8 regional training center location for the past three years and previously coached the 2017 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Michigan. Additionally, she has served as a USA Field Hockey coach in the Futures Program and is currently the varsity head coach for Floyd E. Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, Va. and coaches for TCOYO Hockey Club.
"I am very excited for the opportunity to work with an amazing group of talented athletes this summer,” commented Morgan. “The competitive nature of this tournament brings an energy for growth and development and I cannot wait to be a part of that again!"
Vittese served as a coach for the 2019 U-19 NFC. She's also a coach for Spirit of USA. After competing for the U.S. Women’s National Team for nine years, participating in two Olympic Games, two gold medals in the Pan American Games and earning 211 international caps, Vittese was hired in March as an assistant coach at Temple University. Vittese, her sister Carissa and father, Mark also serve as the head coaches and owners of Spirit of USA FHC, based out of South New Jersey.
“I am so grateful to be selected to work with the future of USA Field Hockey,” said Vittese. “I am extremely passionate about growing the game and serving as a guide to help each athlete optimize their potential. This lot of athletes are incredibly ambitious and eager to learn, and it will be a pleasure to create a positive, growth-centered environment, where each of them can take a step towards chasing their dreams. I cannot wait to get started!"
Congratulations to the AAU Junior Olympic Games coaches and players! For all information regarding the AAU Junior Olympic Games, including full schedule and list of selected athletes, check out the event page by clicking here.
Thank you to the AAU Junior Olympic Games and Wake Forest University for hosting this exciting event!