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Each week on Wednesday, USA Field Hockey will highlight an active club from one of the nine regions around the United States to shine a spotlight on what makes Member Clubs unique. From coast-to-coast, clubs big and small will be featured to increase awareness of field hockey across the country, and administrators and coaches will have the chance to talk about initiatives, training and favorite parts of the game. This week from Region 7 is Washington Wolves.
Club Name: Washington Wolves
History: The Washington Wolves club was founded in 1988 by Steve Simpson. In 2007, Simpson passed the club on to Joann Engestrom, who ran the club until late 2018, when it was taken over by the current director, Gloria Nantulya. The Washington Wolves are the oldest club in the Washington D.C, Maryland and Northern Virginia (DMV) area.
Accolades/Awards: The club is currently ranked in the top 25 in U-14 and top 35 in U-16 and U-19 Girls USA Field Hockey National Club Rankings.
Below is a list of recent finishes:
- 2020 Disney Field Hockey Showcase: U-14 7v7 Girls Daisy Consolation Flight Winner & U-19 Tiana Consolation Flight Fourth
Most Recent Event: 2020 National Indoor Tournament, represented in the U-14 and U-16 Girls age divisions
Nantulya on Club Life
Nantulya has been involved with field hockey since she was 4 years old. Field hockey was a family sport as all of her brothers and sisters played as well. While growing up in Kenya, her U-14 team went undefeated over a two-year period. During that time, the team upset the U-21 Kenya junior team, as well as the reigning national champions, at an adult tournament. Her team was selected to represent the country on a tour through The Netherlands and matched up against clubs and national youth teams where they remained undefeated. After moving to the United States for a short period of time to finish high school, her family moved to Switzerland. The next step in her journey was attending Syracuse University where she was named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) National Academic Squad all four years. Nantulya received her bachelor’s degree in public relations and master’s degree in international relations, both from Syracuse. Currently, she is a site director for USA Field Hockey's Futures. She also coaches field hockey at Stone Ridge High School in Bethesda, Md.
Her favorite part about being a member of the USA Field Hockey Family is being able to see so many athletes playing in large gatherings such as the National Hockey Festival, presented by CranBarry, and the Sheetz National Indoor Tournament, presented by YOLO Sportswear. Having lived and played the sport around the world, she says this is an environment unlike anything she has ever seen. It is such a unique and special experience to be at an event where there is such a large group of people who are all there to do what they are passionate about.
Presently, Nantulya and the Washington Wolves are not taking this time off the pitch as a break. All age groups have virtual practices twice a week and are watching film from their past competitions, collegiate teams and U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams. The athletes are also using an online tactical board where they are able to demonstrate and animate the progressions of their plays and defensive rotations. Athletes are also given workout packets to be completed on a weekly basis. In the coming weeks they will have guest speakers who are field experts in areas such as an athletic training and nutrition. Nantulya is also planning to have Washington Wolves alumna who are currently playing in college to talk about the transition from a high school student-athlete to college, what their day-to-day life routine is now and how to navigate college life.
Nantulya’s goal in the short term is to make quality coaching more accessible to areas outside of the main field hockey communities in the DMV region. She currently is a volunteer coach at a local Boys and Girls Club in the community. She wants to continue to develop the recreational programs as it gives an outlet to kids who may not have access to formally organized sports. Nantulya also has plans in the works to start holding free field hockey clinics to help grow the sport in the area.
In the long term, other than winning the lottery, Nantulya’s plan is to be a part of the process of growing sport internationally. She wants to go back to her roots in Kenya and show that sport in general can be more than just an exercise activity. Sport can create opportunities to higher education, travel the world and expand cultural horizons. She would like to bring field hockey players from East Africa to Maryland to showcase their skills with and against USA talent. She says regardless of where you come from, when you step on the pitch, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
The Washington Wolves have 20 athletes who are currently competing at the NCAA level in programs within all three divisions. In their U-19 group, every single senior is committed to taking the next step in their field hockey journey by playing the sport in college. Maryland native and current U.S. Women's National Team athlete Alyssa Parker is also an alumna of the Washington Wolves club and recorded her first international cap in 2017.
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