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BULLETIN: Jan. 23, 2020 — Unprecedented chaos

There’s supposed to be a doubleheader of field hockey action this weekend at Karen Shelton Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. as the United States is to take on World No. 1 Netherlands in the opening match weekend of the FIH Pro League for both teams.

But there have been significant, and unprecedented, developments in the last two days that have led to a change in the schedule.

First off was the Monday night announcement that U.S. assistant coach Lawrence Amar had died at the age of 48.

This morning at 10 a.m., it was announced that U.S. captain Kat Sharkey would retire altogether from the U.S. women’s national field hockey program, leaving a significant leadership and attacking void just two days before the first scheduled Pro League tilt this Friday.

Late today, there was an announcement by the FIH, the world governing body of the sport, that the Friday match would be cancelled altogether out of respect for Amar’s death. Instead, the Sunday game against Holland will count double in the standings. In other words, a regulation win would be six points, a shootout win four, and a shootout loss two.

This is the most chaotic period for an American field hockey team, I think, since April and May of 2002, when the U.S. had to play India in a three-game last-chance series in order to qualify for the FIH World Cup that year. Borne out of the terrorist events of Sept. 11, the Americans had to travel to five continents and more than 10,000 miles in order to meet up with the Eves in England.

The current U.S. players all have to be looking at each other as well as inward: who steps up for us now? Who can we rely upon?

It also is head coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols’ first test of leadership — and the players haven’t even set foot on the turf for their first game.

We’ll see Sunday how the players respond.

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