Months before this site began, your Founder went to look at talent at a field hockey camp held at a local college. Before a Wednesday scrimmage, the goalkeepers were being warmed up by a pair of the coaches at the camp.
The sound of the ball hitting the backboard from each player echoed like thunder over the adjacent playing fields.
Since that incident and a subsequent interview in one of the hallways of that university, one of the continuing trends this site has followed is the decline in postcollegiate play for adult field hockey players in the United States.
Take a look at the participating teams at the National Festival, and there is an entire division that has been taken out of the program. That division consisted of players who were selected to all-star teams with names like Philadelphia 1 or New England 2, which were selected for Festival from USFHA-sanctioned leagues that often played on Saturday and Sunday.
These days, adults play on club sides at the National Festival, but at the same time, youth teams have figured more and more into the National Festival, and adult leagues nationwide have foundered in the last two decades.
Field hockey, in short, has gotten to the point where women’s soccer was in the 1990s: if you are not on the senior national team, the opportunity for high-performance playing opportunities were very scarce. This meant very young senior national teams playing against physically and mentally mature players at their prime.
Many have suggested starting a club system much like in Europe, where a player living in a certain town could play field hockey for the same local club from the age of 6 to the age of 86.
Until then, there is an unprecedented initiative this summer at Temple University. The Harrow Cup is a post-collegiate league with a player draft, the opportunity for established clubs to enter the league as a unit, and a $10,000 prize to the winning team.
Given the amateur/semipro status of field hockey worldwide, this league is a major step forward in the U.S.
And it’s about time.