As Long Island Field Hockey's (LIFH) youth training program came to an end for the fall season, we made great strides in integrating individuals with disabilities into our program. While we are growing slowly, our goal is to continue to recruit more athletes by reaching out to achieve our goal roster. LIFH has been fortunate enough to collaborate with field hockey coaches from the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and other parts of the world who are far more advanced in ParaHockey than we are here in the United States.
One of the most valuable tips we have learned from other successful ParaHockey programs, is to not segregate our athletes with disabilities from our athletes without disabilities, but instead find ways to integrate training for both simultaneously.
LIFH's athlete Lauren Richardson, the pioneer for this developing program, has made huge improvements during our fall training. Lauren had the opportunity this season to practice with both girls with and without disabilities. All of the girls on the team treat Lauren with the utmost respect and cheer for her throughout the entire practice.
During our final scrimmage of the season, Lauren made two saves (one of them on a penalty corner) and finished the game with a shutout. Lauren has gone from practicing with a larger GO Ball, to a regulation sized game ball in just a matter of weeks! Both individuals with and without disabilities are learning from each other every training session and the feedback from families has been very positive. Long Island Field Hockey is proud to help "Grow the Game" for all and is very excited for the future of this program!
USA Field Hockey believes field hockey is a sport for all, a sport for life, and strives to make it more accessible and inclusive. If you are interested in starting a ParaHockey program in your community, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for support.