Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Apr. 5, 2017 — Another field hockey legacy team fades into the sunset

“Cool kids never have the time
On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet
June bug skipping like a stone
With the headlights pointed at the dawn
We were sure we’d never see an end to it all.”

— Smashing Pumpkins

In the fall of 1979, a multi-ring field hockey circus took place on the grass pitches on Princeton University and some of the area surrounding the south end of campus.

The event was the 1979 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national tournament. For the first time, the competitors were split into three divisions, allowing more teams a chance to have their one shining moment.

It was pretty well known that West Chester State University, winners of the previous four AIAW crowns, would not be as much of a contender in the fall of 1979. Head coach Vonnie Gros and a number of members of those powerful teams were together training for the inaugural women’s field hockey event at the 1980 Olympics.

That opened the way for other teams, such as Division I champion Long Beach State and Division III champion Shippensburg. While Shippensburg remains as a championship-caliber varsity program to this day (the Mauraders having won two of the last three NCAA Division II titles), Long Beach State ended its program in the 1980s.

The Division II winner, Southwest Missouri State, persisted, even as many neighboring teams — Kansas State, Southern Illinois, Southeast Missouri State, and Central Missouri State — dropped their field hockey programs.

But the persistence ended Monday, as a budget shortfall of an estimated $1 million forced the hand of the university to cut the school’s field hockey team.

It’s the latest in a number of cuts — Rhode Island, Philadelphia University, the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Philadelphia Biblical University — that have a number of members of the American field hockey community on edge. There have also been threatened cuts at Lock Haven and at the University of California, Berkeley. It was posited that the long and drawn-out controversy at Berkeley regarding the team’s home ground could have been a pretense for dropping the program entirely.

The dissolution of the Missouri State program, to me, is troubling. It’s a direct affront against the field hockey community within Missouri and southern Illinois. Plenty of talent comes from these schools, and one school, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) invested in an on-campus hockey-specific stadium with short-pile water-based turf and a watering system.

If an all-girls’ school can invest in field hockey, what is preventing Missouri State University from doing the same?


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