COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - June 15, 2020 – The year 2020 has been unpredictable. Matches and large international events have been postponed or canceled which has left many Team USA athletes uneasy. The U.S. Rise Women’s National Team’s trip to England at the end of April was canceled but that hasn’t stopped both squads from wanting to partake in some healthy competition.
Sarah Kelleher, England Hockey U-18 Lead Coach, reached out to Phil Edwards, USA Field Hockey’s Senior Manager of Coaching and Performance, to see if the Rise USWNT would be interested in an online/virtual competition between the two groups to provide a positive ending to a highly unusual year.
“We were disappointed not to be able to play each other in May as planned and a USA v England Virtual Challenge felt like a great way to add another level of competition and engagement to our programs as they come to an end this year,” said Kelleher. “The challenges will involve physical, core and technical challenges over two weeks. This period of not being able to be play together has allowed players to learn about their self-motivation, desire to develop as players and the power of togetherness in how they have supported each other. Our intent is to dial this up another notch through the healthy competition of the USA v England Virtual Challenge.”
The USA v England Virtual Challenge kicked off on Friday and will run until Friday, June 26. This two-week challenge will include mixed groups of athletes from each nation with a combination of tasks and exercises to complete. Each team will be split into six groups, consisting of five field players and one goalkeeper. During the week, each athlete will be given two physical tasks and two field hockey tasks to complete and report their individual score. Each task has a different scaling base depending on the exercise. The average score of the athletes in each group will be the group score. The group score is what will be used to rank the six groups in a healthy challenge setting.
The six tasks during the first week of the USA v England Virtual Challenge are:
1. Physical - The Engine Room
2. Physical - Core Strength
3. Field Player - Hands Like Hannah
4. Field Player - Precision Passer
5. Goalkeeper - Teddy Bears
6. Goalkeeper - Happy Hands
At the end of the two weeks on June 26, a virtual closing ceremony will take place including both teams where the overall group champion will be named, and individual awards will be given for the top performers in each task or exercise.
“Obviously not the challenge we were hoping for at the beginning of this year, but after the last few months it is an outstanding opportunity to compete within our team and against a different nation,” added Ole Keusgen, Rise USWNT Head Coach. “After months of isolation it is important to have a form of competition to stay motivated and to not lose the focus on greater goals. It will be a fun opportunity and our players might also get a nice comparison on where we stand as a team.”
Both nations believe the USA v England Virtual Challenge is a great way to keep the teams involved internally as well as provide an informal way to collaborate and highlight healthy competition.