TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for December, 2017

Dec. 31, 2017 — 239 right, 91 wrong

Today, I finished my Trivial Pursuit Master’s Edition Year-In-A-Box calendar, a calendar full of questions about everything from M&M’s to Doctor Who to the U.S. Senate.

My percentage of correct answers this year was 72.4 percent.

Yep, I keep score.

Advertisements

Dec. 30, 2017 — The other training camp

This week, attention has been paid to about 67 of the best young field hockey players in the United States as they assembled for the STX Select camp to select the U-19 and U-17 national teams.

But 2,000 miles away in Colorado, there was a second gathering of top field hockey players to add a depth to the U-21 national team, and, perhaps, to get a good look for the senior women’s national team.

The U-21s are a veritable collegiate all-star team with the likes of Maryland’s Brooke DeBerdine and Linnea Gonzales, Duke’s Margaux Paolino, UConn’s Amanda Collins, and Stanford’s Kelsey Bing on the roster. But the team’s star power has been amped up with the addition of scorers Kelee Lepage, Cassie Sumfest, and Madison Maguire, goalie Jenny Rizzo, and for me, the most interesting addition, Rachel Robinson from the University of Virginia.

Robinson is a player who used to be a center forward for her scholastic team, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.), but became a defensive force for the team as it won the 2016 PIAA Class AA championship. And with UVA, she became a second-team All-American.

Now, I don’t know exactly what the pecking order is going to be in the next year, since USA Field Hockey already maintains a developmental squad as well as the senior women’s national roster. But I’m expecting a lot from this group of U-21s because of their skills and game sense.

Dec. 29, 2017 — United States Coach of the Year: Mary Werkheiser, Norfolk (Va.) Academy

Change comes at a very slow pace when it comes to field hockey in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Time was, the winner of the Beach District in the Virginia High School League was the near-automatic winner of the state public-school championship. And when Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) was that Beach District champion, it was very difficult side to dislodge. Cox won seven straight state championships between 1989 to 1995.

Indeed, it took an extraordinary effort from future Team USA forward Shannon Taylor to dislodge Beach District teams from winning the VHSL championship; when Taylor and Midlothian James River (Va.) won the state title in 2002, it snapped a 13-year skein of titles won by a Beach team.

But this year saw another seismic change in Virginia’s field hockey culture: the finest team in the commonwealth is not a public school.

Credit that to the planning and skill of head coach Mary Werkheiser and assistants Laura Scimeca-Gibson and Catherine McCallum of Norfolk (Va.) Academy, a private school located just off the confluence of I-64 and I-264.

Depending on your point of view, the 2017 season was an overnight success that was either four or 22 years in the making, which made Werkheiser this site’s choice for United States Coach of the Year.

Dec. 28, 2017 — A statistic that bears watching

Yesterday, the Aspen Institute authored a story on the BBC’s website called, “Have adults ruined children’s sports?

It’s a long read, but there is one bit of statistical data that should concern field hockey people from coast to coast.

Data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association seem to indicate that participation in the game of field hockey has fallen some 21 percent between 2011 and 2016. Field hockey is not alone in a decline in participation: the data, amongst 13 sports, shows declines in all but ice hockey.

The statistic, as published is just that: a statistic. Your Founder does not have any way to get behind the data to see whether the numbers come from participation on the high-school level, the club level, or whether it is from spending on sport-specific goods.

Yet, it is a number that should be a wake-up call for those in the national governing body of the sport, one that has made a number of high-publicity plans for social and gender diversity in the game. These initiatives, however, have not yet meaningfully altered the balance of gender or race in the game and probably will not without a sustained Marshall Plan kind of effort.

 

Dec. 27, 2017 — A well-deserved honor in the midst of an American renaissance

This afternoon, Connecticut full forward Charlotte Veitner won the Honda Award for field hockey, emblematic of the finest player in the country.

Through a vote of about a thousand NCAA administrator, Veitner beat out Ashley Hoffman of UNC, Lein Hoelsboer of Maryland, and Alyssa Chiliano of Duke for the honor.

For me, it’s amazing that, in an era which has seen a number of the best American field hockey players ever developed, that the current Honda Award winner is from Dusseldorf, Germany.

Why is it amazing? Well, given the depth and quality of players like Hoffman, Tara Vittese, Margaux Paolino, and Linnea Gonzalez over the last few years, I’d have expected one of them to have made a much stronger candidacy for the Honda award.

Then again, every time Veitner and the University of Connecticut were put in difficult situations, they came through. I saw Veitner change a game all by herself through her enterprise in the attack end, and she’s been an incredibly successful player for the last four seasons in Storrs.

I guess that’s reason enough.

Dec. 26, 2017 — Your national scoring champion

Mackenzie Allessie is only the second U.S. scholastic field hockey player to record as many as 90 goals in a season, and is one of only three to have 200 goals and 100 assists. She is your national scoring champion for 2017.

For more, I would encourage you to read Sunday’s profile of the junior as published in The Lancaster New Era. Diana Pugliese actually wrote the story I would have written in this very space today.

Well, except for the following paragraph:

Allessie joins a list of national scoring champions from years past. Let us know if there are any additions or corrections that need to be made to the list below. This especially goes for 1988. That missing number has been driving us mad.

2017; Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 91

2016: Megan Rodgers, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 81

2015: Nikki Santore, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 69

2014: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 95

2013: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 96

2012: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 68

2011: Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 69

2010: Danielle Allan, Pompton Lakes (N.J.) 56

2009: Kelsey Mitchell, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 69

2008: Lucas Long, Allentown William Allen (Pa.) 43

2007: Lauren Gonsalves, Harwich (Mass.) 56

2006: Kaitlyn Hiltz, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 50

2005: Kelly Fitzpatrick, Palmyra (Pa.) 66

2004: Amie Survilla, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) 64

2003: Anne Marie Janus, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 44

2002: Shauna Banta, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Amanda Arnold, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 49

2001: Tiffany Marsh, Marathon (N.Y.) 57

2000: Rebecca Hooven, Plumsteadville Plumstead Christian (Pa.) 54

1999: Rebecca Hooven, Plumsteadville Plumstead Christian (Pa.) 48

1998: Kelli Hill, Manasquan (N.J.) 43

1997: Tiffany Serbanica, Madison (N.J.) Borough 43

1996: Carla Tagliente, Marathon (N.Y.) 51

1995: Kim Miller, Frank W. Cox (Va.) 63

1994: Michelle Vizzuso, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 69

1993: Melissa Pasnaci, Miller Place (N.Y.) 60

1992: Diane DeMiro, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 56

1991: Denise Nasca, Centereach (N.Y.) 56

1990: Shelley Parsons, Waterfall Forbes Road (Pa.) 50

1989: Christine McGinley, Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.) 40

1988:

1987: Kris Fillat, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 53

1986: Dana Fuchs, Centereach (N.Y.) 57

1985: Hope Sanborn, Walpole (Mass.) and Sharon Landau, Mamaroneck Rye Neck (N.Y.) 53

1984: Michelle Vowell, Garden Grove Santiago (N.Y.) 56

1983: Tracey Fuchs, Centereach (N.Y.) 82

1982: Mare Chung, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 48

Dec. 25, 2017 — The real meaning, part II

Somewhere in my stacks of souvenirs from days gone by, I have a pair of leaflets from memorial services from the last time I attended my college reunion.

I remember taking two of them home: one for our class, and one for the class graduating 25 years before. Needless to say, our program was a mere leaflet; the older class program for the memorial service was a small book.

I always think fatalistically when I think about the exponential size of the death population of our two classes. “Someday, that’s going to be us.”

I guess that’s what I was thinking yesterday after getting back home from libations with family.

I got news of the death of one of my college classmates. Donnie was one of the most joyful and full-of-life kinds of people you could ever hope to meet. He was one of the first people I ran into at our 25th reunion and he has been the center of a number of mini-reunions that have been held at various places around the country since.

It’s gotten to the point that we’re naming them, using the various Latin prefixes, for size.

A mini-reunion is about 20 people, for example. A micro-reunion? About a dozen. There’s even been talk of the atto-reunion, where two or maybe as many as three get together.

Whenever we got together with Donnie, his generous spirit was all around us as we told stories, reignited (and sometimes re-framed) memories, and enjoyed each other’s company.

I didn’t know Donnie very well at university, but I sure got to know him well after our 25th through several visits.

And now, he’s gone.

Sometime this weekend, I’m going to be raising a glass to this generous soul. So will a small group of like-minded people in my region.

You’ll be missed, friend. Vaya con Dios.