USA Field Hockey NEWS Club of the Week Wed...

Club of the Week Wednesday: Centercourt Field Hockey Club

Jan. 27, 2021, 4:45 p.m. (ET)

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’s featured club from Region 6 is Centercourt Field Hockey Club.

Club Name: Centercourt Field Hockey Club

History: The club was founded in the fall of 2020. The year prior, field hockey was originally only available at the Lawrence, N.J. location of the Centercourt Club and Sports organization. Managing Director Brandi Ritz sought to remedy this by aiming to expand the sport to all facilities. Slowly but surely, field hockey expanded to five additional branches before growing exponentially in 2020 through an introduction class in Morristown. This program was able to provide beginners of the sport with their own sticks, balls, bags and shin guards.

From there, enough interest sparked the development of multiple teams, and before long, developed into club status as Centercourt looks to keep the momentum rolling in the New Year.

Ritz is one piece of the leadership puzzle and is supported by six individuals that all serve as both a club director and coach: Emily Burd, Brett Clay, Rachel Galante, Maura Johnston, Melanie Proud, and U.S. Women’s National Team member Kelly Marks.

Centercourt’s mission as a club is to grow the game by providing playing and training opportunities for boys and girls of all ages year-round. Ritz added that the club’s leadership team strives to empower and reinforce the passion of field hockey through tools and fundamentals that athletes need to succeed and have fun.

Accolades/Awards: Centercourt is currently unranked in the USA Field Hockey Club Rankings. Their first event will be the 2021 National Indoor Tournament, presented by YOLO Sportswear, with one team each in the U-14, U-16 and U-19 Girls divisions.

Ritz on Club Life: Although early in their history, Ritz and company show no signs of slowing momentum in terms of growth. Despite the uncertainties of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Centercourt organization made a big splash by building the first full-sized indoor field hockey court in the Garden State, for the sole purpose of the game alone, and not as a multi-sport playing surface. The club has also been active in the community by coaching at multiple programs at local recreation centers, middle schools and high schools.

Ritz went on to say the leadership team is proud to have a handful of club athletes committed to, or presently enrolled at, collegiate programs, including current U.S. U-16 Women’s National Team athlete Maggie Jancernak.

While providing safe opportunities during the pandemic, the club has remained very active as a collective unit online from newsletters and social media to digital tutorials on YouTube and through webinars. Club members were also fortunate to participate in local scrimmages against fellow New Jersey based clubs. At the state’s current mandate levels, indoor competition has been able to resume, and so Centercourt has taken the lead in hosting an indoor tournament series which includes New Heights, NJGrit, NJStarz, Omega, Sistas with Stix, South Jersey Edge, UPRISE and Xplosive. Ritz also commented that they wish to continue welcoming additional clubs to take part even as interstate restrictions begin to lift.

Ritz was also quick to commend Shari Jones, founder of Stepping into Field Hockey, who has been helping with Centercourt’s recent programming. This partnership dates back to last summer, when Centercourt supplied equipment and coaches for Jones’ clinic in North Philadelphia. Jones’ mission is to "increase inclusion and diversity by providing field hockey along the East Coast to communities that would not have access".

In addition to hosting these opportunities, the club was also excited to host a three-hour clinic this past fall which featured Marks and USWNT athletes Karlie Heistand, Laura Hurff and Jess Jecko and more than 50 local participants.

Ritz’s favorite part of being a USA Field Hockey Family member has been sharing the common goal to grow the game locally. She said Centercourt loves the support they are gathering around the state and the relationships that have blossomed because of it. The club is excited to continue growing in the early month’s of its history and welcome anyone who is willing to learn and play the game to their facilities.