On Wednesdays throughout 2021, 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 Baltimore Field Hockey Association.
History: Baltimore Field Hockey Association (BFHA) was founded in 1923, just twenty-two years after Constance Applebee introduced the game of field hockey in the United States. BFHA was also a founding member of the Southeast Field Hockey Association in that same year, along with the Washington Association, Virginia Association and Deep South Association.
Based in Baltimore, Md., BFHA is a volunteer organization that has a mission of promoting the growth of field hockey in the region for high school, college and post-college athletes. They run co-ed adult and youth leagues and tournaments in the Baltimore area in all seasons and for all levels of competitiveness.
In any given year, BFHA has had approximately 150 active members, but in the last four years have had more than 800 athletes participate in their many leagues and tournaments.
BFHA recently held the 21st annual Beach Bash tournament, a USA Field Hockey Sanctioned Event, in May 2021, bringing together co-ed adult teams from up and down the East Coast for a fun weekend of field hockey on the Delaware coast.
Ewald on Club Life:
Erin Ewald, BFHA President, said their mission is to promote the growth of field hockey in the Baltimore area and guide engagement in the community. She continues that even though they offer primarily adult leagues and tournaments, they are also providing opportunities for high schoolers and youth through annual events. For high schoolers, they run an indoor league and tournament during the winter, and they have partnered with a local youth club to host an indoor tournament each January.
In 2019, BFHA saw a need in the community for opportunities for younger players, so they began an annual $5 Youth Skills Clinic for kindergarten to eighth grade boys and girls, their parents and recreational council coaches. This clinic is a great way for BFHA members to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of athletes (and to teach parents what all those whistles mean). Additionally, BFHA members are very active in the larger Baltimore field hockey community, with members coaching at all levels (youth club teams, recreation, high school and college), running clinics, and volunteering their time.
With the pandemic, BFHA had to cancel their 2020 Spring and Summer Leagues, but since have been able to run scaled-back and COVID-safe leagues, and will be back to their usual programming schedule in Fall 2021. In the meantime, Ewald said BFHA members have been staying in touch and sharing various playing opportunities on social media, having virtual meetings and even had their first post-game outdoor social gathering once vaccinations were widely available.
Over the decades, dozens of BFHA athletes have represented on the U.S. National Teams, U.S. National Indoor Teams and U.S. Masters Teams. In the past few years, approximately twenty BFHA members have been selected for Masters Teams, traveling and competing internationally. BFHA also is a participant in the U.S. Field Hockey League Adult National Championship, a tournament that includes twenty top adult teams from across the country.
As part of the USA Field Hockey Family, Ewald says that with BFHA being an adult league, they play a critical role in keeping athletes involved in the game post-college. She goes on to say it is incredibly rewarding to welcome new members who thought that their playing days were behind them and are thrilled to find opportunities to keep playing.