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Jan. 7, 2010 — The 2000s: 10 who will define the next decade

Second in a series.

The next decade might see some interesting trends, both at home and in the way this country is seen internationally in the game of field hockey. Here are the people who are most likely to shape the next 10 years:

10. Jill Witmer. The fluid midfielder will be heading to Maryland this fall, but it’s not her play there that will define her role in the decade of the 2010s. Instead, it will be the fact that she was a homeschooled student who rarely set foot inside Penn Manor High School in Millersville, Pa. Witmer is not alone: a 2003 estimate reveals that more than a million children in the United States were homeschooled, slightly more than two percent of the K-12 population. And more homeschooled children and their parents are taking advantage of the legal avenues given them, including participation in interscholastic athletics.

9. Wendy Wilson. The head coach at Yorktown Tabb (Va.) is one of a wave of bright young scholastic coaches who have been exposed to the high-performance aspects of the game, and are willing to push the envelope in teaching to high-schoolers. This generation includes Tara Worley, Tracey Arndt, Nicole Catanzaro, Kate O’Connell and Julie Swain.

8. Paige Selenski. The University of Virginia star was a Honda Award finalist as a sophomore, and her quickness and fluidity were as great to watch on TV as they were devilish to defend on the pitch. The Cavaliers, which also include the likes of Tara Puffenberger, Kaitlyn Hiltz, Michelle Vittese, and Rachel Jennings, are going to make a run at the NCAA championship.

7. Denise Zelenak. Always at the forefront of the development of the game, she has taken Drexel University to a Top 10 position in the national rankings, has played indoor and outdoor hockey with distinction, captained the nascent Puerto Rico national side, and has coached the East Coast Juniors, a field hockey team composed of young men, to the Men’s National Championship the last two years. Will be on some collegiate athletic director’s Rolodex if a coaching position opens up. So, for that matter, will be coaches like Danyle Heilig, Shawn Hindy, Adrienne Searfoss, and Jen Campbell.

6. Maxine Fluharty. One of the youngest players in the high-performance pool the last couple of years, she was able to will Georgetown Sussex Tech (Del.) to a state championship in 2009, and she has also made her commitment to attend the University of Maryland.

5. Lexi Smith. The freshman midfielder from Florence (N.J.) had 44 goals this past season. Do the math. She’s a skilled, smart player with a mighty shot who could not only shatter the all-time National Federation goal-scoring mark, but could also bring her school the first state championship in field hockey since 1992. She’s one of a number of second-generation players in the pipeline such as Aileen and Shannon Johnson who will be the next generation of high-performance players.

4. JaJa Kentwell. The United States junior national team player is looking at universities in England because he won’t be able to get much in the way of every-day league play in the United States.

3. Katie Reinprecht. The Ivy League Player of the Year in 2009 as a sophomore, she helped bring the Tigers to the Final Four. She’s already worn red, white, and blue with the senior indoor national team, and she may be starting for your Olympic team very, very soon.

2. Scott Blackmun. The new Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee will be asked to deal with fractured relationships not only with the International Olympic Committee, but will have to mend fences with national governing bodies of sport, especially those whose funding formulas have been completely ruined the last decade.

1. Caroline Nichols, Tiffany Huisman, Tara and Steve Danielsen, and other members of the U.S. national team program coaching in the greater San Diego area. San Diego has always been a hotbed of field hockey post-World War II, but with the National Training Center having moved to Chula Vista, there are now a number of high-performance coaches out in deep Southern California amongst the 42 schools that offer the sport in the region. It’s a matter of time before a university or two out there decides to keep the talent at home by starting a varsity field hockey program.

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1 Comment»

  Gina Smith wrote @

To Whom It May Concern,
Thank you for considering Lexi Smith (WHo will define the next decade). As her Mother and Coach it makes me very proud!
Thank You,
Gina Smith


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