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Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Aug. 21, 2015 — What Lloyd (et. al.) hath wrought

As much as Carli Lloyd and the rest of the U.S. women’s national soccer team thrilled the nation in July, there was an equally thrilling performance by a U.S. women’s athletic team when the field hockey team won its second straight Pan American Games title, something the program had never done before.

But while the soccer team played on network television, you had to scramble to find Internet coverage of the field hockey team in Toronto.

Over the last 30 or so years, the rise of girls’ high school soccer has pretty much pushed field hockey to second-class status. There are nearly 12,000 varsity girls’ soccer teams in the United States in all 50 states. Compare that to about 1,940 field hockey teams in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Actually, make that about 1,938. A pair of New England programs are falling by the wayside this fall. But while one has a contingency plan, one does not — at least for now.

Last spring, it was pretty much a given that Portland Catherine McAuley (Maine) wasn’t going to have enough players to field a team, much less one that could win a game, something that it has not done in three seasons. The players in the program are receiving a great gift and an opportunity. The Maine Principals’ Association is allowing McAuley and the nearby Waynflete School to do something that has been done in other states like New York: form a co-op team.

That’s right. Two schools having to feed in players to one team and having to unify under one nickname, one set of colors, and one coaching staff.

It’s not the easiest life lesson, but one which is beneficial to the players, to the parents, and, I think to field hockey. The players get a chance to develop their skills in an environment which could allow the Flying Lions (a mashop of the McAuley Lions and the Waynfleet Flyers) to succeed.

But 150 miles due west, right on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont, sits Windsor (Vt.). The team has won the state championship four times; its coach, Sandy Clary, has practiced her trade for the past 42 seasons, putting her amongst the top 20 in terms of years as head coach of a field hockey program.

But because of declining numbers, Windsor isn’t going to have a field hockey team this fall. Instead, the players are going to have to either play another sport, train exclusively with their club team, or have to wait for paperwork to allow them to join another program on a co-op basis.

“The process they have to go through is to have them formally sign off,” Vermont Principals Association chief Bob Johnson tells the Lebanon (N.H.) Valley News. “What happens in my case is if they begin the paperwork, I’ll allow them to practice with the new team but not participate in games until everything’s been completed. Then I have to sign off on it.”

Of course, given the size of the town and the location of the school, it will be interesting to see who Windsor would pair with — if at all. Hartford (Vt.) and Woodstock (Vt.) Union are two of their main rivals, and they are located only a few miles away.

We could hear something as early as today as to the status of the players; a meeting was scheduled between the team and its athletic director on next steps.

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