COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Following the announcement of all winners, USA Field Hockey is individually highlighting each recipient of USA Field Hockey's 2021 Annual Awards. This week, USA Field Hockey is honored to feature the 2021 National Club of the Year Award winner Gateway Field Hockey.
Gateway Field Hockey was founded in 1985 in St. Louis by Kelly Yates and started as a summer camp program that traveled around both the Midwest and Southwest. More than three decades later, the club has transformed into one of the oldest and largest in the United States. Gateway is also still family owned and operated by Yates and her daughter Kate Graft, who serves as assistant owner and director. The pair have worked together over the past 12 years since Graft graduated from college.
Gateway teams are consistently ranked in the Top-10 in the USA Field Hockey National Club Rankings and is the top ranked club in Missouri through their success at various regional and national level tournaments. The club offers a variety of field hockey programs for all skill levels of athletes in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
A St. Louis native, Yates was a member of the 1979 Southwest Missouri State University National Championship team. After college, she returned to St. Louis where she coached at a variety of high schools as well as served as the head coach for Saint Louis University for nine successful seasons. In the early 1980s, Yates saw the need to grow field hockey in the Midwest, so she decided to start Gateway Field Hockey since St. Louis is prominently known as the "Gateway to the West". Gateway Camps continued to grow to over ten camps in various cities in the Midwest and Southwest into the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In the 1990s, Yates realized the need to create an avenue for athletes in the Midwest and South to play in college and the Gateway Club began selecting three teams (Team Gateway St. Louis, Team Gateway Midwest and Team Gateway Southwest) consisting of players from Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. These teams traveled to the National Hockey Festival to compete.
In 2001, Gateway expanded to a year-round club program and attended the first annual Disney Field Hockey Showcase where they placed second in the inaugural event hosted by AAU. Both Yates’ daughters and many of the club coaches today were members of Gateway teams in the 1990s and 2000s. Gateway was the first club in the Midwest to attend these yearly tournaments and has had incredible success since. In the early 2000s, the club expanded its offerings in St. Louis by offering seasonal recreational leagues for athletes of all ages and today the leagues host more than 700 athletes in weekly game play through various age divisions starting at the youngest Mini Sticks Division for 3- to 5-year-olds.
In 2008, Yates’ daughter, Graft graduated from Indiana University where she was a part of the program’s first NCAA Elite 8 appearance and returned to St. Louis to teach, coach and help grow Gateway and field hockey in the area. In 2015, Gateway began playing at Sportport International, with the building of a beautiful water-based turf field and numerous field turfs to host events.
Gateway now offers a wide variety of programs for any level athlete from ages 3 to 18 years old. They have assisted more than 400 athletes reach their dreams of playing field hockey.
In 2021, Gateway returned from the National Hockey Festival with two gold medals in U-16 and U-19 Girls divisions, a second-place overall finish at the U-19 Girls National Club Championship (NCC), and 11th place finish at U-16 Girls NCC. Together, Yates, Graft and their support staff of coaches love working with the Gateway athletes and families and are super appreciative of being named 2021 National Club of the Year!
“We are incredibly grateful for all of our club families, coaches, and of course USA Field Hockey for honoring us with this incredible award,” jointly said Yates and Graft. “We are blessed to be able to work with so many amazing people in the sport that has been part of our lives for so long. To be able to run Gateway together as a mother and daughter duo is the most special part about it. We are so proud of all the players and teams that have been a part of Gateway for so many years. Thank you to everyone who voted for us and have supported Gateway along the way!”
Congratulations once again to Gateway Field Hockey for winning the 2021 USA Field Hockey National Club of the Year Award. Join USA Field Hockey to celebrate and honor all of the 2021 Annual Awards on Saturday, February 5, 2022 at the 100th Anniversary and Hall of Fame Celebration, hosted by the U.S. Field Hockey Foundation, at The Union League of Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.