You may recall that last spring, this site kept track of the top girls’ lacrosse schools in a weekly Top 10, then made a final Top 50 published last June. There was one thing missing from that inaugural Top 50: a physical, tangible award given to the top team, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.).
And, when the final Top 50 for field hockey is published later this month, there’s going to be one thing missing: a physical, tangible award.
It was 14 years ago when this site got the idea to build a simple trophy to symbolize the apex of the game of field hockey. Not something storebought, but an award which could be duplicated year after year.
The idea was to build something tall; we were inspired by the Philadelphia Eagles, who commissioned an enormous trophy for wide receiver Harold Carmichael. The 23-foot, 9-inch award was bestowed when he broke the NFL record for consecutive games with at least one catch.
Given the size of the plaques I’ve seen given to field hockey teams winning state championships, I knew the TopOfTheCountry trophy would receive a lot of looks because the trophy towered over everything handed out by either state associations or newspapers.
But I got a perspective when I delivered the award to the Sacred Heart Valkyries in Louisville, Ky. after their 29-0 season in 2008. When walking past the trophy case towards the cafeteria, there were some shoulder-high awards lined up in front. They had two levels, four victory statues on each corner, and a cup on top. Underneath was a bronze basketball.
This is, of course, Kentucky, where the sport is a religion amongst young people like soccer in Argentina or football in Florida.
The trip to Kentucky also uncovered a possible problem. The award could go to any team, nationwide. I drove the trophy to Louisville; something I couldn’t readily do if the nation’s best team was in California or Colorado or Texas; it would have to go on an aircraft, a non-starter for a trophy that size.
The problem could have evinced itself this year on the penultimate day of the domestic season. What if No. 1 Emmaus (Pa.) and No. 2 Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) had lost and No. 3 San Diego Serra (Calif.) had won?
This site hasn’t yet determined where to go from here when it comes to the design of the new end-of-year award to the finest team in all the land. There are plenty of options, but we’d like to go for something which is not only timeless, but something which can be updated as the years go on. Think of it: the last five and a half years of girls’ lacrosse and field hockey in America could have seen a total of 11 identical trophies going to exactly two schools: Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) — that is, if we had done a girls’ lacrosse Top 50 the last five years.
Who’s getting this year’s award? Stay tuned.