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Sept. 24, 2016 — The post-Olympic shuffle

In international team sports, national team coaches rarely last more than eight years. And the same can be said of various staff members within a coaching structure.

Last week, it was announced that three members of the U.S. Olympic field hockey braintrust — Kelly Knapp, Nate Franks, and Dave Hamilton — were leaving their posts.

Hamilton, the former strength and conditioning coach for England Hockey who was the fitness guru behind the U.S. national team’s efforts the last four years, is going to bring his talents and philosophy to Penn State University, where he will serve as assistant athletic director for applied health and performance science.

As much as coach Craig Parnham was the man who advanced the fortunes for the U.S. women’s national field hockey team, Hamilton was the man behind the throne. His influence has started to spread: at least one Division I university has a wireless notebook computer on the sideline, gathering data from the transponders fitted to each of the players on the pitch. There is discussion that similar systems may become widespread in five years or fewer.

Departures of this sort after an Olympics are not unexpected, given the fact that the next major competition isn’t for another two years in field hockey.

But that doesn’t make what’s been happening in Australia any less shocking. Even six months before the Rio Olympic tournament began, Hockey Australia and head coach Adam Commens announced that the women’s coach would be leaving his position after the Games.

Only now, Commens’ departure is much less voluntary.

After reports he exposed himself during a watch party for the Olympic final on Aug. 19th, Commens was dismissed as coach of the Hockeyroos yesterday by Hockey Australia’s David Hatt.

“On behalf of the board of directors of Hockey Australia, I want to make clear that as an organisation, we take the on-field and off-field behaviour of our players, coaching staff and employees very seriously,” Hatt said in a terse statement.

Australia, a multiple Olympic winner and runners-up in the most recent World Cup, has undergone a number of setbacks since. Not only did the women’s team, the Hockeyroos, fall in the knockout round of the Olympics, but the same fate befell the men’s side, the Kookaburras. Yep, the Kookaburras, featuring star striker Jamie Dwyer.

It was the first time since Los Angeles 1984 that Australia has failed to medal in field hockey. And I also think Hatt didn’t have a choice in the matter, given the fact that Commens had left Anna Flanagan out of the side in the aftermath of her drunk-driving episode earlier this year.

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