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Archive for February 21, 2021

Feb. 21, 2021 — Bolstering the middle, by degrees

This week, it was announced that Maryville University, a small university located just outside of the circular highway enveloping the St. Louis metropolitan area, was going to start offering varsity field hockey at the NCAA Division II level beginning in the fall of 2022.

The new field hockey program is the latest in a number of changes made to the map of collegiate field hockey in the Midwest. In the last decade, have seen plans made by Bellarmine to move to Division I, the start of field hockey at Lindenwood, Rhodes, and Hendrix, and the regrettable dropping of the sport by Missouri State.

“Field hockey is the latest in our ongoing efforts to increase opportunities for female student-athletes,” Maryville athletic director Lonnie Folks said in a prepared statement. “The sport has a large presence in the St. Louis area, and Maryville is responding to the interest by local high school student-athletes in playing at the collegiate level.”

While Maryville is just the second Great Lakes Valley Conference team playing field hockey, it does create an instant rivalry with Lindenwood, which plays in nearby St. Charles.

One of the knocks on field hockey development since the 1982 recession is the number of teams from the center of the country to drop the sport, never to return. This includes big-time athletic schools like Minnesota and Kansas, and mid-majors like Dayton, Valparaiso and Toledo. But what was really disheartening is the number of schools in Missouri to drop the sport, like the University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri State, Central Missouri, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Hopefully, Maryville’s addition can help in reversing this long-term trend coming out of the COVID-19 contagion and the effect it is having on college sports.