So, what should a Field Hockey Hall of Fame be? What should it look like? How should it be composed? This space has been mulling over this question since last summer, since the subject was first broached last summer in one of Steven Locke’s weekly Executive Director blog entries.
I think there have to be three main aspects to a new Hall of Fame:
1. More open. Right now, the current Hall of Fame excludes builders like Constance Applebee, who championed the sport throughout a lifetime spent here in the United States. It excludes coaches like Nancy Williams and Susan Butz-Stavin, who have more than 800 wins as scholastic coaches. It also has no male players such as John Greer, William Boddington, or Patrick Harris. There aren’t any umpires or other contributors.
2. Fewer metrics. The current Hall of Fame only allows players who have been on the national team a minimum of five years. There is also a points system, which takes into account each year a candidate played for, coached, or captained the national side in an international tournament or tour. I wouldn’t have this kind of system in the new Hall because of the realities of the sport today. Back in the 1920s through the 1950s, field hockey players could be on the national team for, literally, decades. Witness the likes of Anne B. Townsend, for example, who played from the early 1920s all the way until 1947. Some of the better players in recent years have had only about a three- to five-year stint with Team USA.
3. No frontloading. A long time ago, I was associated with a magazine which put so much effort and time and celebration into creating its first issue that there was no follow-up for future editions. That, I think, happened when it came to the original Field Hockey Hall of Fame, which elected 30 members in two years and exactly 10 more during the next 24 years. If you’re going to have an inaugural Hall of Fame class, make it a true honor and limit it to less than a dozen, then have anywhere from two to four in each intervening year for induction.
So, here’s my very unofficial initial dozen for a new Field Hockey Hall of Fame:
Amy (Tran) Swensen
Anne B. Townsend
Believe me, your first 12 is going to be a lot different. Post yours below.
Perhaps this will be the start of a conversation.
This morning, I invite you to listen to the words of Keith Olbermann:
While the powers-that-be who have chosen and maintained the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame are not as corrupt as members of the Baseball Writers of America appear to be from this argument, what is incontrovertible is that the current Hall of Fame is not in the best shape. After inducting 30 members in 1988 and 1989, it has elected exactly 10 people since, and none since 2004.
USA Field Hockey has said they are working towards a solution, but we’ll have our own tomorrow.
The 2013 American field hockey story started with a move away from a longtime home, but finished with a move back to that very location.
Huh? How can that be? Did this go from a women’s sports site to that of the Dalai Lama?
Well, like just about everything having to do with the high-performance level of American hockey, it’s complicated.
In January 2013, USA Field Hockey announced the location of its planned “Home of Hockey.” A former aluminum distribution complex in Manheim, Pa. just off Spooky Nook Road, partway between Lancaster and Harrisburg, Pa. was the chosen site.
Initial plans for the site included dozens of indoor convertible courts for field hockey, indoor soccer, and basketball. They also included outdoor soccer fields, at least two water-based turf pitches, and an onsite hotel.
The ambitious plans for the Spooky Nook Sports Complex were such that USA Field Hockey announced it was going to move a number of its national events there. As a result, the national governing body’s relationship with Virginia Beach appears to be well and truly over.
And the same went for the relationship with its former technical director, Terry Walsh. In a truly scandalous turn of events, it was revealed during a USA Field Hockey Board of Directors meeting that Walsh had padded his technical director salary with licensing and royalty fees for a video software package that USA Field Hockey never fully owned, but was leased from a company for which Walsh consulted.
The women’s national team soldiered on, however, under head coach Craig Parnham, qualifying for 2014 FIH World Cup in an odd fashion.
Because of the qualification formula coming off the Americans’ fifth-place finish at the World League semifinal in London, the United States wound up in a Pan American Cup final in which the result was irrelevant. The U.S. team would have qualified for the World Cup with an outright win, but because of Argentina’s 1-0 win, the U.S. qualified anyway.
The men’s program, under head coach Chris Clements, did not do as well, failing to qualify for the World Cup. But the men’s high performance program has expanded a little bit in comparison to past years, though the gap in opportunities for high-performance play is still a yawning chasm between men and women in the U.S.
At the junior national team level, the American women’s side finished eighth in the FIH Junior World Cup in Moenchengladbach, Germany. But one interesting aspect of the result was that the leading scorer for the U.S. team in the tournament wasn’t a collegiate player or one with senior national team caps. Instead, the leading scorer for the Americans was Tara Vittese, who was, at the time of competition, a rising high-school senior.
Vittese was one of a phalanx of players who rewrote the all-time scoring charts during the 2013 scholastic season. In one autumn, nine of them reached 124 goals or more for their careers — a seriously high number given the fact that only 33 players had reached that mark in the previous 103 years of American scholastic field hockey.
Vittese finished an extraordinary career with Cherry Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.) sixth in all-time in goals with 166. But while she and seven others finished their careers amongst the top 42 goal-scorers in recorded Federation history, there is one career that has overshadowed the rest.
That’s because junior Austyn Cuneo, a member of last summer’s U-17 national team, had a season for the ages with Voorhees Eastern (N.J.). For the 2013 season, Cuneo had a national record 96 goals, breaking Tracey Fuchs’ 30-year-old all-time mark. She broke Lexi Smith’s year-old career goals mark, then broke the 200-goal mark soon afterward. She finished the 2013 season with 233 goals, and it is anyone’s guess how high she could set the mark in the fall of 2014.
While Cuneo was working her relentless magic, Carol Middough of West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) had an equally amazing season. She recorded 78 goals on the 2013 season. Middough and Cuneo weren’t the only players who were finishing; in fact, a record six players had 50 goals or more in 2013.
All-time goal-scoring records were not the only headlines for the scholastic season. Haley Schleicher, the mercurial sophomore attacker from Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.), had a national-record 50 assists in 2013. She also had 47 goals, which made her the second known field hockey player to have 40 goals and 40 assists in the same season. Schleicher has two more years to add to what could be an astronomical total for assists; she has 98 in just two seasons.
Schleicher led her own platoon of players assaulting the single-season assist chart. Four players had 39 assists or more in 2013, placing themselves in the Top 10 of all time.
The record-setting offensive performances were not limited to individuals, but also spread to teams. Eastern scored a record 235 goals, exceeding its record of 233 goals set a year ago. The Vikings extended their state championship streak to 15 years, and their unbeaten streak to 79 games. But that’s not the longest current unbeaten string: Watertown (Mass.) finished out its 2013 season holding on to a 115-game undefeated streak.
Aside from these streaks, a few other teams extended some pretty remarkable multi-year streaks in 2013. West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) won its 15th consecutive Shore Conference Tournament in 2013. Emmaus (Pa.) won its 25th consecutive PIAA District 11 championship. Greenwich (Conn.) Academy won its 29th consecutive Fairchester Athletic Association league title. And Shore Regional won its 43rd straight Shore Conference divisional title.
There were some repeats in the collegiate club season as well. Amongst club teams, Penn State won its second straight National Field Hockey League title, UC-Santa Barbara won a third straight Western Collegiate Field Hockey Conference, while the University of Rochester won the New York State Club Field Hockey League.
Among varsity collegiate programs, the early storylines of the 2013 collegiate season were dominated by the Atlantic Coast Conference. The conference was all set up to be a superconference with the addition of Syracuse, but the 2013 also was the last ACC season for the University of Maryland before it leaves for the Big Ten.
For most of the season, ACC teams held down at least three of the top four teams in the NFHCA national coaches’ poll. All seven ACC teams made the NCAA Division I tournament field, and three made the Final Four.
But the lone interloper in the Final Four and in the top four of the coaches’ poll was the University of Connecticut, an American Athletic Conference school that plays a Big East field hockey schedule. The Huskies parlayed the speed of the Bolles sisters as well as the talents of seven foreign players to post a 2-0 win over Duke in the Division I final.
The UConn victory was also a triumph for Nancy Stevens, who has 574 career victories, but won her first national title after three and a half decades as a head coach. The Division II final had a similar reward for Bertie Landes, who has been a collegiate field hockey coach for more than three decades at Philadelphia Bible College and at Shippensburg State University. With a 2-1 overtime win against an undefeated LIU Post team, Shippensburg won its first field hockey championship since the 1979 AIAW Division II title. It was also Landes’ first national championship.
In Division III, it was Bowdoin College defeating Salisbury, the fourth title in seven years for the Polar Bears.
These championships, plus the National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association all-star games, were spread among Old Dominion University and the National Training Center at Virginia Beach.
It was a comprehensive weekend of field hockey which brought together the three top NCAA divisions and the NFHCA Convention.
And it is a format which deserves a repeat. Hopefully, it will.
This morning, as I was getting dressed, I spied a black case on the couch. It was about four inches wide by 10 inches long.
These days, whenever I see a travel wallet like this, I snap it up quickly. Rare is the time that they makers of wallets and luggage made into the shape that would hold a reporter’s notebook.
I’ve carried a reporter’s notebook in my wallet since the late 1980s. It’s not only a good habit for a journalist (even in this digital age), but it’s also good if you want to give somebody directions or jot down a thought or an email.
The case I saw on the couch was one that I purchased at a second-hand store for only a couple of bucks. It was a souvenir from a golf championship. Brand new, unused.
The old one in my pocket was from a transportation seminar, and it looked and felt very shopworn with a strip of industrial-strength black duct tape on one end. Time for a change.
As I moved items from the old case to the new one, the first thing I was concerned with was whether a reporter’s notebook could fit into this case. It did.
But I’ve also been thinking about the shrinking of tablet computers in recent years. These days, there are a number of sizes and shapes that are on offer through discount sites, computer retailers, and mobile phone companies. Some of them have better reviews than others.
And frankly, I’m not interested in any of them. I have my one mobile phone from which I blog and check emails and occasionally come up with the purple prose posted here.
And I have a notepad.
It’s all I need.
Like President Obama, the first genuinely political action in which your Founder ever participated was a protest against apartheid.
This was in the mid-1980s, when it was pretty indefensible for any government to have policies of racial separation as well as the extremely aggressive polities imposed to maintain a privileged way of life.
Amongst the things the government did was to turn Nelson Mandela not only into a political prisoner, but into, literally, an “unperson.” His name and photograph were banned from South African news media, a government action that would be unthinkable today.
But all of that changed on Feb. 11, 1990 when he walked out of prison after 27 years of detention. It also changed June 24, 1995, when Mandela, wearing the green rugby shirt of the national rugby team, presented the IRB World Cup trophy to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar.
Though Mandela was seen as a unifying figure as the first post-apartheid president of South Africa, it was a sports team that truly galvanized that unification, and gave it palpable life.
You can see it in the way the country has come together after Mandela’s death last week. People of all walks of life were dancing and singing and mourning as one.
Which is what he would have wanted. What a life well-lived.
The swimming world has been rife with speculation the last few weeks since it was announce that Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.) swim coach Dick Shoulberg, a coach who has given more than 44 years of his life to the sport, was being relieved of his duties at the school.
Shoulberg, who has coached on the international level and in three Olympic Games, has been the subject of an investigation by Germantown Academy’s athletic administration due to a two-year-old hazing incident, according to a story in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
Much like the scandal involving the Stubenville (Ohio) football team, there were indications that Shoulberg was being seen as the person who could deal with the situation quietly, or, in the case of one quoted source in the Inquirer story, “bury it.”
What complicates this situation, however, is that there isn’t a raft of social media evidence like there was in Stubenville. All we have are allegations from sources, and an athletic administration that seemingly was ready to dump Shoulberg at the slightest provocation.
Years ago, I got to know Dick Shoulberg when writing a story on a dual meet between his school and Hightstown Peddie School (N.J.). These are two programs which are nominally high-school teams, but only swim about three dual meets each per season. That’s because these teams compete in weekend-long USA Swimming meets with races that have longer distances than the events on the National Federation’s slate of events during a scholastic meet.
Shoulberg was an affable gentleman, willing to tell a visitor about the pictures and posters and memorabilia on his office wall while letting the journalist use his telephone port to send the story and agate back to the office.
It would be a shame if this was the last we see of him; he’s given too much to the sport to be remembered like this.
The United States Coach of the Year is given to a head coach or co-head coaches who made a marked difference in the performance of a scholastic field hockey team in a particular season. The coaching performance is not limited to progress made in the year which the award is given.
Here are this year’s nominees:
Nikki Barrett, Ann Arbor Skyline (Mich.) — Won inaugural Michigan Division II championship in a penalty-stroke shootout and will now join Division I in 2014
Leslie Caito-Jones, Providence Moses Brown (R.I.) –Used a team style of play to overcome the opposition to win a third consecutive state final
Abby Comerford. Edwardsville (Ill.) — Second-year coach piloted the only Illinois team in the St. Louis-area league to a quarterfinal berth in the postseason
Eileen Donahue, Watertown (Mass.) — A few months after the Boston Marathon bombing dragnet ended in the neighborhood of the school, team showed itself to be “Boston Strong,” finishing an undefeated season undefeated in 115 games
Jeanne Frevola, Clifton Park Shenendehowa Central (N.Y.) — Steered her team to its first state championship thanks to a dramatic and controversial penalty shootout
Danyle Heilig, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) — Won 15th consecutive state championship and managed to handle all of the attention focused on a team that continuously found new records to break
Starr Karl, Chantilly Westfield (Va.) — After 30 years as a coach, umpire, and administrator, she finally won first state title
Rebecca Kingsbury, San Diego Canyon Crest Academy (Calif.) –Taking over from a successful predecessor, she got the Ravens to win the CIF San Diego Division I section championship
James Larkin, Fredericksburg Chancellor (Va.) — After 20 years at Chancellor and in the AA/A ranks, the Chargers got their chance at playing in the new 4A bracket and beat Yorktown Tabb (Va.) and Suffolk Lakeland (Va.) to win the title
Jennifer O’Donnell, West Chester (Pa.) Henderson — The Hall-of-Fame lacrosse umpire coached a team with her lacrosse-committed daughter to within a goal of the PIAA state final
Jenna Tuccio, Stonington (Conn.) — Helped Bears to win their first CIAC state championship since 1987
Adele Williams, Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) — Blended her South African hockey knowledge with some of the best suburban Philadelphia club players to create a team which won its second PAISAA championship in three years
The recipient will be announced December 27.