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Archive for June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013 — Saying farewell to an old friend

For the last time tomorrow, a group of about 680 of the best youth field hockey players in the U.S. are going to be making the left turn off Landstown Road into the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. After a decade-long run, the National Futures Tournament and its ancillary events will move to the Spooky Nook Sports complex near Lancaster, Pa. starting next year.

The move comes after a decade of immense growth along the entire Princess Anne corridor. Where there originally used to be empty fields and forests, housing developments and strip malls have sprung up. The Sportsplex has also grown significantly; where there had only been a soccer stadium in 1999 (one of the first in the country), there is now a massive soccer park across the road (where the Regional Rumble was contested for two years), a field house with dozens of indoor courts, and the two-turf National Training Center, which was used by USA Field Hockey full-time from a friendly against South Africa in October 2001 until a less-than-friendly row between the national governing body and the city of Virginia Beach saw the Olympic team move its training to Chula Vista, Calif. in early 2008.

Despite the departure of most of USA Field Hockey’s main events, the Center will get its share of usage. During the fall, local high schools play at least two games a day at the complex. And in the spring, the middle-school teams in the Virginia Beach Public Schools get to play the occasional game there.

It’s also the home ground for the Virginia Wesleyan field hockey team. It has also hosted the final weekend of competition of the National Field Hockey League as well as the JFK Cup.

I hope the current management of the site realizes the unique aspect of having a hockey-specific complex and doesn’t go to rubber-based turf.