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Archive for May 16, 2019

May 16, 2019 — Dear Tiffany

I can’t believe it was 22 years ago yesterday when word of your passing came to my attention.

I must say, things in Mercer County field hockey have changed pretty significantly since you left us. Almost every team in the capital region now plays on some form of artificial grass. A number play on their school’s football stadiums, and that has really made local players better.

Indeed, there was one player a few years ago who became the first player in the history of Mercer County to reach the 100-goal mark. She went to North Carolina and played in four NCAA championship games, winning one.

There are, I fear, a few trends which are going to change the nature of the game of field hockey forever. The imposition of eyewear has yielded a generation of forwards who aren’t afraid of going into a crowded circle and shooting at any angle because the ball isn’t going to pop up and hit you in the eye.

And the same goes for defenders; a lot of skill has been taken out of defenders who now will tend to sweep and lunge for tackles rather than block tackle. It has been years since I saw a good block tackle on a high-school field.

The seesaw has been tilted towards the offense; this past year saw a scholastic player hitting the 100-goal mark for a single season. After leading her team to their state championship in the most breathtaking walkoff goal I have ever seen, she received a callup to the U.S. women’s national team.

Tiffany, do you remember that cap I carried with me all over the place with the autographs of all of the local players who made some sort of age-group national team? I still have it, albeit it is worse for wear. I tend to look at all of the names on that cap and wonder what happened to some of those players.

A few have been successful in Division I field hockey. One transferred out of her school to follow her boyfriend, and never picked up a stick again. And, regrettably, one is in jail.

I hope you are having a fun time up there regaling about our times together with Jim Davis. And I hope you’re meeting up with George O’Gorman, his buddy at The Trentonian. He treated girls’ and women’s soccer like Davis did field hockey: with a certain paternalistic bent, wanting to see the best for the sport above all.

Till we meet again.

Yours in hockey,

Al