USA Field Hockey is the national governing body for sport of field hockey in the United States and is based out of Colorado Springs, Colo.

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of USA Field Hockey is to:

  • Grow the Game by promoting and continuing to develop the sport for future generations to enjoy.
  • Serve Members by helping them achieve their field hockey ambition and creating value for continued membership.
  • Succeed Internationally with competitive success and enhanced performance programming.
  • be an Effective Sport Leader by allocating its resources efficiently to Grow the Game, Serve Members and Succeed Internationally.

Grow the Game. Serve Members. Succeed Internationally.

HISTORY

Origin

  • The roots of field hockey are buried deep in antiquity. Historical records show that a crude form of the game was played in Egypt 4,000 years ago and in Ethiopia around 1,000 BC.
  • Various museums offer evidence that a form of the game was played by the Romans and Greeks as well as the Aztecs several centuries before Columbus arrive in the United States.
  • The modern game of field hockey emerged in England in the mid-18th century and is largely attributed to the growth of public schools.
  • The first Hockey Association was formed in the United Kingdom in 1876 and drew up the first formal set of rules. The original association survived for just six years but in 1886, it was revived by nine founding member clubs.

In the United States

 

College

  • Evidence suggests that the first collegiate field hockey team for women was organized by Goucher College in 1897.
  • The sport quickly took on a New England flavor as men at Springfield College, who had ben playing for a couple years by that point, had structured interclass competitions as well as school-wide team as early as 1899.
  • Dr. James Huff McCurdy of Springfield College penned a set of rules for American Field Hockey in 1899 and the men at Springfield took great pride in their playing hockey, making special note of the interclass championships that were won each year. The mood of the Class of 1903 was aptly described in the Springfield yearbook, theKiYi , saying “We had a sense of pleasure after it when on the twenty-fifth [of November] we defeated the Juniors at hockey with a score of 1 to 0.” (p 9).
  • Students from nearby Mount Holyoke College made the short trip to Springfield to watch the men play, but it was not until 1901 that women appear to have picked up the game in the New England area when a visitor to the campus from England began teaching the ladies at Radcliffe.
  • This first introduction of field hockey at Radcliffe was in June of 1901 as Mabel Greenleaf Hale, a member of the Class of 1902, described early instruction at the school. Hale stated inThe Radcliffe Magazinethat “during the last few weeks of college work, Miss Wallis, an English lady, has been kind enough to teach the girls hockey as it is played in England (June, 1901). Other students commented on going to hockey practice and watching their friends practice while on their way to other pursuits, indicating a growing popularity at the school.
  •  Ironically, Radcliffe was the site of a symposium of physical education professors in August of 1901. Dr. Dudley Sargent, the Director of the Harvard Summer School of Physical Education and the founder of the Sargent Normal School, was in attendance. Harriet Ballintine, the Director of Physical Education at Vassar, was also there, along with an English acquaintance of hers, Constance Applebee. During the seminar, Applebee, a member of the British College of Physical Education, was called upon to “tell about the type of athletics that English girls indulged in” (Sportswoman, September, 1929).
  • Applebee started to talk about hockey, and upon further urging, chalked out a field and handed out what implements were available, including shinny sticks and a dumbbell for a ball. “The Apple,” as she was fondly called, gave the participants a brief explanation as to the rules of the game and the exhibition was on.
  • Applebee reports that Ballintine, “at the first pause from chasing the dumbbell exclaimed ‘We must start this at Vassar.’” Applebee did just that as she traveled to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. a couple weeks later to greet the students in the fall term. Ballintine describes that first fall at Vassar, noting that girls quickly took to the game, forming organizations in their own houses. Furthermore, ‘the following year class teams were organized, and annual inter-class contests established” (18).

  • Applebee recalled that fall in herSportwoman, she came to Vassar with “imported hockey sticks and a regulation ball.” (Sept. 1929). At Vassar, “students were initiated into the mystery of dribbles and drives and forward and defense play. Not only did the star athletes become devotees, basketball players and track team, but students who had up to this time shown no interest in any form of sport, and in those days this type far outnumbered the energetic ones, were intrigued with this ‘new English game.”

  • The New YorkTimes caught wind of the recent development, and reported on the hockey phenomenon at Vassar. “Land [sic] hockey has jumped into instant favor at Vassar, and from there the contagion has extended to Poughkeepsie” (Nov. 1, 1901).

  • Back in Boston, the site of Applebee’s exhibition game, the sport continued to spread rapidly. Other participants in that exhibition game took the game their own schools, including Sargent, who went about forming a team to represent Sargent College.

  • Lucille Eaton Hill, the director of the department of hygiene and physical training at Wellesley College, brought the game back to Wellesley’s campus. At Wellesley, hockey fever caught on quickly and the sport was introduced to the Field Day program that fall. Monday, November 11, 1901, was Field Day at Wellesley, and it was here that a game was played between the Classes of 1904 and 1905. Reports state that “the exhibition game ... was the novelty of the day, and was watched with interest and enthusiasm by an appreciative audience.” (College News, Nov. 14, 1901). Fittingly, the game between the freshmen and sophomores ended in a 3-3 tie. “English Field Hockey,” as it was called,” bids fair to become a popular game among us,” stated an editorial in the Wellesley College News. The paper reported that thirty students in both the freshmen and sophomore classes had come out for the sport, and that none other than Constance Applebee would come over to the school to give two lessons to the freshmen and sophomores. Later coaching would be done by the students who attended these lessons and the captains of the two class teams. (p 4, Nov. 14, 1901).

  • The following week a description of the sport, including rules and strategy, was on the front page of theCollege News at Wellesley. The first comment made was that “the game is never in the least rough or unwomanly when it is played properly” (College News, Nov. 21, 1901). By June of 1902, hockey had been organized at Wellesley under the Athletic Association, and had “a constitution ... on the same basis with the other sports.” One of the leaders at Wellesley was Elizabeth Hardman, who was the captain of the Class of 1904 that played in that exhibition game in November. 

  • Down the road at Mount Holyoke College, where students had journeyed to see the men playing at Springfield College, the 1902 student handbook indicated that “this delightful game has recently been introduced at Holyoke and bids fair to outdo even golf and tennis in popularity” (p 39). At nearby Smith College, “no less than 500 girls signed the agreement to play the game,” according to the New York Times (Oct 6, 1902).

  • Meanwhile, at Radcliffe, the field hockey team elected two captains at the beginning of the fall term in 1903. Katherine A. Cox (Class of 1905) and Yolande de Vignier (Class of 1907) were selected to lead what could be considered the varsity team that would in turn represent the college. Plans were made to schedule a couple of outdoor games, as “there was every prospect that a first hockey team will soon represent the college in games with other clubs.” The Radcliffe Magazine,December, 1903).

  • By this time Applebee had been hired by Amy Morris Homans, the Director of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics. Applebee was listed as an instructor in field hockey in the 1902-03 Catalogue of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics (p. 7), not unlike the varsity coaches at schools like Wellesley and Smith today.

  • At some point during the fall of 1903, representatives from the teams of both Radcliffe and the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics agreed to play. The actual site and date remain a mystery, but it is clear the game did take place. Unfortunately, the exact outcome of the game is also not known. In the December 1903 publication ofThe Radcliffe Magazine, it is reported that “the first [game] with the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics resulted in a score of 1-0 in favor of Radcliffe” (p. 46). Yet in the March 1904 issue, the report reads as such: “The results of the two outside games played in the autumn of 1903 by the college hockey team were as follows: in the first game, Radcliffe 1, Boston Normal School of Gymnastics 1” (p. 95). While the specifics of the game are not known, what is clear is that hockey was now an intercollegiate sport. The article inRadcliffe Magazinegoes on to say that “the hockey team will begin practice again in the spring as soon as the ground permits. Some outside games will be arranged” (March 1905, p. 95), ostensibly with the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics or with one of the other schools that had started teams.          

  • Other schools quickly followed suit. In January of 1904, eight schools included field hockey as part of the physical education process, including Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith and Wellesley in Massachusetts, Vassar in New York, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore in Pennsylvania, and Goucher in Baltimore. Drexel indicated that field hockey was to be introduced that spring. At Smith, the 500-odd girls were organized by classes and then the best players were chosen to be on the school team, which then elected a manager. The first person to hold this position at Smith was Alice M. Wright, who served on the 1904 team. She gave way to Marjorie Perry in 1905 and Rosamond Denison in 1906.

  • Soon after the game between Radcliffe and the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, games against other local schools were organized. Radcliffe competed against teams from Pembroke, Sargent, and Jackson Colleges. These three schools are most likely unfamiliar to sports fans today, as Sargent was assumed by Boston University, Jackson College merged with Tufts College and Pembroke College merged with Brown University much like Radcliffe with Harvard. These four schools played intercollegiate contests regularly in the early years, but those results have been lost to time.

  • One of the games that is recorded is a contest in 1915, as Sargent played Wheaton in the latter’s first intercollegiate game, which resulted in a 7-0 win for Sargent. Two years later the Athletic Conference of American College Women (ACACW) was formed at the University of Wisconsin, which had also picked up the instruction of hockey as part of the curriculum. This wave of popularity, however, was dealt a serious blow when in the 1920’s the Association of Physical Directors for College Women determined that intercollegiate athletics for women was unseemly in that “when a team is preparing for an intercollegiate game, [there] comes a desire to win, sometimes at any cost, and a lessening of ‘play for play’s sake.” (Mount Holyoke News, April 29, 1927).

  • While most schools started to shy away from intercollegiate competition as a result of this denouncement, a handful of schools were determined to keep intercollegiate play alive. Among these schools were a handful of west coast teams, including the Universities of Arizona, California and Oregon as well as Stanford, Mills College and Oregon A&T. Sweet Briar and William and Mary both championed the cause in the South, while Bryn Mawr, Ursinus and Swarthmore kept playing hockey in the Philadelphia area. In the northeast, Barnard, Hunter, Radcliffe, Pembroke, Sargent, Jackson and Wheaton maintained their independence. In a report for the New York Herald Tribune, Janet Owen described the yearly hockey game between Cornell and Elmira. “The Cornell girls’ honorary field hockey varsity, named toward the end of the season, meets the honorary varsity of Elmira at home and on the near-by campus, alternate years.” While these two schools did not compete regularly with other teams, this “grudge match” was evidently one of the early field hockey rivalries.

  • Intercollegiate competition was stymied with this announcement as most schools, like Wellesley, chose to focus instead on interclass competitions. The Boston Normal School of Gymnastics had been assumed into Wellesley College in 1909, ending the run of intercollegiate hockey for BNSG students.

  • If New England is the head of field hockey in the nation, then surely it is the Philadelphia area that is the heart and soul of the sport. Fortunately for American collegiate hockey, Applebee had moved on to Bryn Mawr College after a two-year stint at The Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, and it was here that the United States Field Hockey Association was founded in 1922 by Applebee. As Bryn Mawr’s first director of physical education, Applebee was instrumental in the growth and spread of the sport from its scattered beginnings at Goucher, Springfield and Radcliffe. From there hockey in the Philadelphia area flourished and Bryn Mawr quickly established a team, as did nearby Swarthmore and Ursinus. The Philadelphia area saw the development of leagues that dominated intersectional play in the early years of competition. Swarthmore was one of the nation’s early powers as the Quakerettes forged a five-year unbeaten streak in the 1930’s. Swarthmore hosted Ursinus in the Bears’ first-ever intercollegiate game in 1919, one year after the college organized a varsity team for the first time. Although Swarthmore won that game 8-1, Ursinus would develop into a national powerhouse almost 75 years later, giving rise to some of the greatest names in American field hockey history.

  • That first intercollegiate game for Ursinus was an inauspicious beginning for what would become the centerpiece of collegiate field hockey in the years to come. According to the Ursinus Weekly of November 3, 1919, “the game [Nov. 1, 1919]  was played at Swarthmore in the rain. At the end of the first half the score was 5-1 in favor of Swarthmore. The final score was Swarthmore, 8; Ursinus, 1. This was the first intercollegiate hockey game ever played by Ursinus. Hockey was introduced at Ursinus in 1918.  The Ursinus girls deserve much credit for their good work at Swarthmore, as hockey has been a major sport at Swarthmore for the last four years."

  • Hockey would become a major sport at Ursinus soon enough, and the recipients of that legacy are none other than some of the major faces in United States collegiate field hockey. Seven members of the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame, which resides in Collegeville, Pa., are Ursinus graduates, including Beth Anders, former Old Dominion University head coach; Adele Boyd, who took the Bears to three consecutive national finals in the 1970’s; and Vonnie Gros, a former Ursinus coach who in 1984 led the United States women to their only Olympic medal in field hockey.

  • It was in the south, however, that one finds the legs of the early collegiate field hockey scene. It was south of the Mason-Dixon Line that saw early state tournaments and advanced intercollegiate competition. The first intercollegiate game in the south took place in Richmond at Westhampton College on November 22, 1920. According to the Westshampton student newspaper The Collegian, “This was the first intercollegiate game played below the Mason-Dixon Line.” The final score was Sweet Briar 3, Westhampton 2. The ladies at Sweet Briar, thanks to Harriet Rogers, had been playing since a team was organized in November of 1915. Other schools in the south quickly followed suit, including Westhampton (1918), Lynchburg (1920) and William and Mary (1923).

  • The Indianettes of William and Mary, as they were known then, played their first intercollegiate game against Sweet Briar on November 7, 1925, under the direction of Martha Barksdale. Although William and Mary lost that game, it was the beginning of a new era in field hockey with the involvement of Barksdale. Five years after that first game, Barksdale organized the first intercollegiate state tournament, which was held in Williamsburg on October 31-November 1, 1930. Representatives from Harrisonburg (now JMU), Farmville (now Longwood), Sweet Briar, Randolph-Macon, Hollins, and George Washington traveled to Williamsburg at the invitation of Barksdale to compete in the state tournament. While it was not a tournament as the NCAA is organized in this day, it marked the first time that schools in an area had been brought together for the purpose of intercollegiate competition. According to the William and Mary student newspaper, the Flat Hat, “The tournament was conducted in the interest of better hockey, and not as a matter of winning games. From the first the players, although naturally playing to win, were also keen to play skillful hockey.” It is this premise that lasted until 1975 and the formation of the first national championships. At the conclusion of the 1930 tournament, it was said that “the success of this tournament practically assures a similar one this year.” And so it did, under the auspices of the Virginia-North Carolina Field Hockey Association.

  • It is also appropriate that forty-five years later the first collegiate national championship would take place in Virginia. This first national championship came as the result of devoted efforts by Sharon Taylor, then head coach at Lock Haven. Taylor prosed to USA Field Hockey to initiate a collegiate championship for field hockey. At that time, not even the world body had a championship, so her proposal was a very novel idea as the prevailing idea was the same one that had held true in 1930 at William & Mary. Phyllis Weikert, the then president of USA Field Hockey, appointed her as the chair of college activities for the organization. USA Field Hockey then approached the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) about co-sponsoring the tournament, and Leotus Morrison, then president of AIAW, appointed Taylor the chair of the AIAW field hockey committee. Taylor persevered, and in 1975 Harrisonburg welcomed sixteen teams from around the nation - including teams as far away as Stanford - to participate in the crowning of the first national champion. “It was unique in that two national governing bodies would co-sponsor a national championship,” says Taylor. “At first, there was a great deal of apprehension, since it was a very different approach to what had been done in the past with field hockey. But other sports were moving in this direction, so it was appropriate that field hockey should as well.” If there was a question about excitement, that was answered quickly, because in a harbinger of the excitement that was to follow in the annals of national championship field hockey, West Chester needed strokes to get past Ursinus 2-1 in that inaugural championships. These two would meet for the title two more times, with West Chester winning all three title games. The Rams would tack on one more national title in 1978, defeating Delaware that year.

  • The 1979 season saw not only the end of the West Chester dynasty but also the rise of the three-division tournament for the AIAW. It was the est that rose to the occasion, as Cal State Long Beach won the Division I title that year and Southwest Missouri State won the Division II title. Shippensburg won the Division III title in the inaugural championships at that level. Long Beach’s opponent in the final was none other than Penn State, who would go on to win the next two national titles, including the AIAW title in 1981, which was also the first year that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sponsored a national field hockey championships. Also in 1981, both Lock Haven (DII) and Bloomsburg (DIII) won national titles, an anomaly in that these two would face each other for the national title eight times under the NCAA format. Meanwhile, Connecticut won the inaugural NCAA field hockey Division I national title, and Pfeiffer of South Carolina defeated Bentley in the Division II title game. Trenton state, now known as The College of New Jersey, started its dominance in the NCAA championships, winning the first of their eleven titles that season.

  • In 1982, the NCAA tournament became the only national championship, and Old Dominion began its assault on the crown. The Monarchs won the first of their triple that season, and in Division II, Sharon Taylor’s Lady Eagles took the opener against Bloomsburg.

  • The NCAA consolidated the Division II and Division III championships after Bloomsburg got revenge over Lock Haven in 1983, sending these two schools, among others, into the mix against the New Jerseys, Ithacas and Salisburys of Division III. The tournaments separated again in 1992, with Lock Haven taking back the Division II title and Cortland State winning the Division III title. Old Dominion, meanwhile, won its third consecutive NCAA title in 1992, completing their second consecutive undefeated season. From 1990-1993, the Monarchs won 66 consecutive games, including 48 by shutout, which still stands as the record. In just 1991 and 1992, ODU went 51-0, with 39 wins in a shutout. In only five games did the Monarchs win by less than two goals, and they outscored their opposition 308-14. That 1992 final game between Old Dominion and undefeated Iowa had over three thousand spectators, which then set the record for attendance at a collegiate field hockey game in the United States, a record that still stands today.

  • That attendance is a far cry from the inauspicious beginnings of the sport that are hazy in the annals of time, but the fact remains that none of this excitement of the addition of new programs, however, would be possible were it not for the hard work of Applebee, Ballintine and Barksdale, and even modern-day pioneers like Taylor. Field hockey still runs strong, and it continues to grow as new generations of fans accept the torch from the modern-day descendants of the men from Springfield and the women from the New England region who served as the catalyst for the hockey players of the 21st century.

     

USA Field Hockey

  • The United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA) was founded in 1922 by Constance Applebee to govern women's field hockey in the United States. Six years later in 1928, the Field Hockey Association of American (FHAA) was founded to govern men's field hockey in the United States.
  • In April 1993, the USFHA and FHAA merged to form the United States Field Hockey Association. Later that year, the name was changed to just USA Field Hockey.

Olympic Games

  • The inaugural Olympic Hockey competition for men was held in London in 1908 with England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales competing separately. With the addition of Germany and France, the competition ran with six teams.
  • After having made its first appearance at the London 1908 Olympic Games, field hockey was subsequently dropped from the Stockholm 1912 Olympic Games after host nations were granted control over 'optional sports'. It reappeared in 1920 in Antwerp after pressure from Belgian hockey advocates before being omitted again in Paris in 1924.
  • The formation of the International Hockey Federation in 1924 was not soon enough for the Paris Olympic Games but it did grant hockey re-entry in Amsterdam in 1928. Hockey has been on the program since, with women's hockey included for the first time in the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games.
  • The United States men made their first appearance in the sport at the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games, where they went on the earn bronze and only medal in the sport in history. The U.S. Olympic Men's Field Hockey Team has also competed in the Olympic Games of 1936, 1948, 1956, 1984 and 1996.
  • The United States women made their first appearance in teh sport at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, where they went on to earn bronze. The U.S. Olympic Women's Field Hockey Team has also competed in the Olympic Games of 1988, 1996, 2008, 2012 and 2016.