TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Aug. 3, 2015 — Outside the minutiae

It’s the time of year when your Founder is collecting rosters from U.S. collegiate programs and trying to make a semblance of which teams are going to be successful this fall in the NCAA and ECAC national tournaments.

Of course, it’s an inexact science. Whoever thought Albany was going to be in the Final Four last year, for example, had to be either clairvoyant or a die-hard fan of the Danes.

But when looking through rosters, there are also times when there are narratives surrounding players no longer on them.

When you look at the better players coming out of scholastic hockey the last 20 years, there are players who have been successful to an enormous degree, playing in the Olympics or in the high-performance level at either the senior or the junior level.

But then you have the players who fell by the wayside, either through injury, academic ineligibility, financial issues, or the pressure of having to keep your place in the team.

It’s the latter which I have seen more and more of in the last few years as foreign players have been brought into Division I programs, and when domestic players have gotten better and better at their skills. It’s a bit like a thunderstorm front, where there is a collision of warm and cool air.

That’s created even more intense competition for scholarship money; the NCAA still caps field hockey at just 12 full scholarships.

I do wonder whether field hockey is going to be one of those sports that will benefit greatly from proposed rules allowing schools to pay players, given the situation in the current potential player pool.

Now, I’ve never been one of those “inside field hockey” people who tries to track what every single player is doing in terms of signing letters of intent, or transferring, or simply quitting the sport altogether. It is, frankly, a lot of woolgathering that really doesn’t do any good in the long run. And yet, there are publications making millions of dollars doing it for basketball and football.

I got to know a number of good players from the time when I wrote about field hockey in the dailies. And they were perfectly serviceable as athletes and as young women. But there was one who left a Top 10 program after five days. Another had a Bo Jackson-esque hip injury during her freshman training camp and never played again. Another couldn’t handle the team culture of the varsity program and moved over to the pay-to-play club team on campus and never looked back.

Sure, we’ll write a story when a prominent record-breaker makes a decision on where to attend college. But we’ve had players who have broken other records who this site has not written about as they’ve left their college programs before their careers really had a chance to get started.

They all have their reasons. And sometimes it is best that those reasons are left undiscovered.

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