COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - July 8, 2020 - USA Field Hockey is disappointed by the recent news that Stanford University has made the decision to reduce the breadth of their athletics programs and staff, including discontinuing the field hockey program at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.
Stanford student-athletes and coaches were informed of this decision today through a Zoom call, during which they were informed that field hockey and another 10 programs would be discontinued because of a serious and growing financial challenge to support varsity sports. The Stanford Athletic Department and Board of Trustees’ decided on these sports after a comprehensive evaluation across a broad set of criteria and considerations.
USA Field Hockey sends its deepest sympathy to current and former Stanford Field Hockey teams, coaching staff of Tara Danielson, Patrick Cota and Steve Danielson, major stakeholders and supporters, and the California field hockey community. All three are former members of Team USA and have almost 200 international caps among them.
Field hockey has been a part of the Stanford undergraduate experience since 1903, with Stanford playing games against other colleges since the early part of the 20th century. Stanford is a Division I program with a rich West Coast history having won 19 Conference Championships and made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances. Under the helm of Tara Danielson, the team consistently elevated the program’s national standing in the form of both team and individual success and has remained a fixture in the national rankings since November 2010. In 2019, Stanford defeated five top-25 teams, finished 16-7 overall and 5-1 in the America East Conference. In addition to capturing the program’s third America East crown in four seasons, the Cardinal also notched an NCAA Tournament victory in the opening round.
The quality and continued success of the program merely highlights the achievements of all student-athletes and coaches and their dedication to the sport and university. Stanford has produced two U.S. Olympians in Sheryl Johnson (Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and Nancy White (Moscow 1980), six U.S. Women’s National Team athletes, including currently rostered goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) and striker Corinne Zanolli (Newtown Square, Pa.), as well as a handful of Junior U.S. Women’s National Team athletes throughout the years.
The discontinuation of a NCAA Division I program in California is disappointing for the sport in the state, especially eight years away from the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. In January 2018, the U.S. Women’s National Team hosted The Netherlands in the first-ever ticketed series at Stanford. Last December, USA Field Hockey held the first California Field Hockey Symposium to unite and empower community sports leaders and field hockey stakeholders in the Golden State to exponentially grow interest and participation in the sport. California has a rich tradition of field hockey, as well as an active base of youth, school, club and adult play, and now the dropping of the Stanford program is a step back in the efforts to grow the game, at all levels.
"Stanford dropping field hockey really hurts, and we are devastated for all those directly impacted," said Sally Goggin, USA Field Hockey's National Development Director. "Stanford’s coaching staff and program are top-notch, exemplary, both on and off the field. Their contribution to sports, and their dedication to growing the game of field hockey in California, has reached well beyond Stanford athletics. The bad news resulting from COVID pandemic keeps piling on and we know it’s not over. We’ve all been painfully reminded that playing sports - and field hockey - whether in the backyard with friends or competing at any level, is an amazing experience, privilege and joy. Sports teach important life lessons including how to work as a team and how to keep going in the face of adversity, and we need these skills now more than ever."
At the beginning of the year, USA Field Hockey announced an initiative to help sustain and grow the sport regionally by working with leaders in select states in the form of State Chapters. Three states were identified to help pilot this program, and California was one of them. With its vast geography and moderate climate, as well as its diverse population and large economy, California provides USA Field Hockey an exciting opportunity. The state already has a solid field hockey base with more than 30 clubs for boys, girls and adults, over 100 high school programs, three NCAA Division I collegiate programs and eight collegiate club programs. California is also home to the California Cup, one of the largest and longest running international tournaments. Hosted annually at Moorpark College in Moorpark, Calif. Despite this strong foundation, none of the bordering states offers high school or collegiate field hockey programs, making travel for competition burdensome. As such, establishing a California State Chapter will help improve communication and increase support from USA Field Hockey for local competition.
“USA Field Hockey wants to honor those that have played at Stanford by sharing our compassion with them through this difficult time,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey’s Executive Director. “We remain committed to the development of the sport in California, as we build toward the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.”
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