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Archive for September 5, 2021

Sept. 5, 2021 — Falling short on numbers

A few years ago, it was projected that the game of football could face an existential threat if just 10 percent of youth players were not made available by their parents to play Pop Warner or high-school ball.

This year, the game of field hockey is, sadly, seeing some fraying at the edges when it comes to participation.

We’ve seen a couple of stories from the scholastic level about the lack of participation in the game in some small school districts. Lawrence (Mass.), which is in a city of 80,000, only had four people come out for field hockey, and may not have a team at all this autumn.

Down the coast, there is a new co-operative team which now is going to have the designation Westbrook-Lyme-Old Lyme, a combination of three Connecticut high schools. The new combo was necessitated by the fact that the Westbrook head coach Janet Dickey was seeing short numbers on her team.

“The first couple of days of practice, we had 12 on the roster, but only eight that were cleared to play,” Dickey tells Shore Publishing. “As we were going and we weren’t getting more kids, I brought up the prospect of finding a school nearby to bring in some more kids.”

Lyme and Old Lyme, located on the opposite side of the Connecticut River, are providing some crossover athletes from the girls’ lacrosse program so that the co-op field hockey program can take the field.

Another co-op team which is happening this fall is between two Allentown, Pa. high schools. Allentown Louis Dieruff (Pa.) and Allentown William Allen (Pa.) are forming a team to play Allen’s schedule in the East Penn Conference because of low numbers at both schools. Remember: this is the same William Allen team that made the state final in 2005.

Across the river in New Jersey, low numbers has caused Ewing (N.J.) to cancel its varsity season and play JV-only. Ewing has had a lot of hard-luck seasons over its existence, and had the cruelest blow of all when promising head coach Tiffany Bashore died suddenly before the 1998 season. Bashore brought the Blue Devils to within a game of automatic qualification for the state tournament the season before.

On the other side of the country, there is a story brewing at a place which just saw its field hockey program reinstated. Stanford University’s program was saved at the last minute from the chopping block, but at a cost. Head coach Tara Danielson left after the reinstatement, and new coach Roz Ellis arrived to find a team with players she didn’t recruit, and one with players who left via the transfer portal.

Problem is, the Cardinal do not have a designated goalkeeper on the roster. Not one.

This meant that Stanford has had to play its first two games of the season with 11 outfield players; a recent rules change has prevented the team from designating a kicking back with goalkeeping privileges.

Stanford has a game tomorrow against Dartmouth, then does not have a game for two weeks when the short-handed Cardinal play at Vermont and at Maine.

I hope Ellis and her coaching staff are able to find someone willing to put on the pads.