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Archive for Field hockey

Aug. 15, 2022 — An eye-popping investment

When the Spooky Nook Sports complex was first developed on the site of an Armstrong Aluminum distribution center back in 2013, the outlay to build two turf pitches, indoor recreation facilities, and a hotel on the site ranged from anywhere between $25 and $42 million, according to published reports.

But there’s another sports investment, one with a sizable field hockey element, which is being planned in a non-traditional area of the country that is over and above that figure.

The Mangat Group, a developer in Arizona, is about to commence construction on a a pair of sports complexes in Glendale which are estimated to cost somewhere between $50 and $100 million.

So, what’s the field hockey element of this? Currently, there are two temporary hockey pitches on the land, used by the Phoenix Scorpions and the Arizona State University club team. And the final construction on that patch of land will include three field hockey pitches (presumably water-based). It will also include indoor basketball and volleyball courts, and a pickleball complex with several dozen courts. In addition, on a second site, a 20,000-seat cricket stadium is being planned.

The building projects are the collective brainchildren of Vispi Karanjia and Tony Mangat, and they are looking to start construction sometime early next year for a 2024 opening.

“I told (the city of Glendale) if you help me get the process going, I’ll make sure I build the thing in 2024,” Mangat tells The Phoenix Daily Independent.

The Glendale field hockey site’s scope is impressive — impressive enough that if the developers do their homework and build the three pitches to FIH standards, the site could host a World Cup one day.

About the only thing that would have to happen for the United States to use Glendale as a host site is for FIH to move the tournament window for that future World Cup to the winter.

It’s not unusual for that to happen in the sports world: FIFA has had to make all manner of changes to its calendar to hold the next men’s World Cup in Qatar, beginning Thanksgiving Week and ending in December.

It may seem like a far-off dream, but let’s see what happens with the follow-through from these sports property developers.

August 14, 2022 — New opportunities for one of the sport’s legends

Last May, John Savage, the head field hockey coach at Mamaroneck (N.Y.), retired from coaching the team that he had been a part of for the last 26 years, winning three state championships.

This fall, he is coaching a team which he had volunteer-coached during the global pandemic. That school is Newtown (Conn.), located where Savage lives.

It is a bit of an odd twist, as Savage is taking over for Ellen Goyda, who will now be coaching at the developmental level as Newtown Middle School’s inaugural field hockey coach.

Savage, a resident of Newtown since 2015, had gotten to know many of the incoming players the last couple of years during the pandemic.

“I really love coaching these young ladies. I just like to help out and be around young people and hopefully have a positive impact on their lives,” Savage tells The Newtown Bee.

Newtown, in 2019, was the No. 1 seed in the CIAC Class L tournament after a 16-0 regular season record. It is this kind of potential Savage hopes to harness.

“I’ve learned that it’s a mental game as well as a physical game. It has to be a team game where personal glory is put aside for team success,” Savage tells The Bee. “If you want to be a championship program you have to love each other.”

Should Savage be able to bring the Nighthawks to a state championship, he would belong to a small club of field hockey coaches. Only Jodi Hollamon (Maryland, Delaware) and Daan Polders (Colorado, Pennsylvania) have ever taken teams to public-school state championships in more than one state.

August 13, 2022 — More than just “leveling up”

Last weekend, on the north banks of the Piscataquis River in central Maine, a field hockey exhibition was played featuring alumnae of Dover Foxcroft Academy (Maine).

The site was Gene Philpot Field. But it wasn’t enough that the playing surface was named for the school’s longtime coach.

Philpot Field is located inside of Jim Robinson Fieldhouse, a $7 million facility built right next to the school campus. The floor of the main competition surface is lined for both soccer and field hockey, surrounded by a three-lane track.

As the pages of this site have detailed over the years, field hockey has had a lot of investment in infrastructure. Since the construction of an enormous artificial grass surface behind Angela Tammaro Field House in Greenwich, Conn., almost every scholastic field hockey team in America has moved off grass.

Slowly, a number of teams in Connecticut, Virginia, Missouri, and Texas have started playing on water-based artificial turf.

But playing in an all-weather facility? That’s a level above anything else we’ve seen.

Now, there have been indoor facilities where field hockey has been played before. Rutgers University’s football practice bubble on the Piscataway side of the Raritan River was, for several years, the site of the U.S. women’s national field hockey team’s selection camp.

We’ve also noted that a New York state playoff game in Section III was held at an indoor facility.

And we know of a lot of indoor soccer facilities around the nation which are privately-owned but not many are used for the stick-and-ball sport.

Philpot Field is a bit of a snug fit inside the field house, albeit there appears to be more room around the outside of the pitch than there was for the indoor bubble at Spooky Nook. I guess we’ll find out Sept. 2 just how many people the place can hold; that’s the date for the Ponies’ first home match against Guilford Piscataquis (Maine).

BULLETIN: August 11, 2022 — Eastern, staying home

When Danyle Heilig resigned from the head coaching position of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) after the 2019 season, there were three assistant coaches on her staff.

One, Alex Marshall, took over in 2020. All she did was coach the Vikings to the South-West D sectional championship with an undefeated record at 14-0. It was a season (and a post season) truncated by the global pandemic.

A second Viking assistant, Kerry Heck, took over for the 2021 season. All she did was steer Eastern to a 25-2 record, a 22nd straight state championship, and the final Tournament of Champions.

Today, the third Eastern assistant, Sara Snuffin, was named as the new head coach of the 21st Century’s most dominant scholastic field hockey program.

Snuffin is used to being around the Eastern program, having played goal during the Austin Cuneo years. But I think during the last couple of years, she will have picked up valuable advice and mentorship being around Marshall and Heck.

It would not be surprising at all if the Eastern Express doesn’t miss a beat this fall.

BULLETIN: August 11, 2022 — Year 3 of the NHSI with games hard to analyze

This afternoon, the folks at Max Field Hockey released the schedule for the third National High School Invitational, which will be held the weekend of Sept. 23 to 25 at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa.

It is a tournament which will have 68 games featuring 59 schools. We’ve seen a couple of schools already put games on the schedules which are released to the public, but the full schedule is now up.

As we figured, the two best field hockey programs in the nation last year — Delmar (Del.) and Emmaus (Pa.) — aren’t in this competition. But there are plenty of championship-level sides, including the first visitors from the Golden State. I think the best game of the first day of of the tournament, to be held at 3 p.m., is San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) taking on Winnetka New Trier (Ill.).

For the second day, the nightcap between Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) and Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) is going to be a dynamite game between two of the nation’s best programs.

On the Sunday slate, the Cherry Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.) contest against Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) is going to be a good contest.

But with the graduation of so many tremendous offensive talents over the last two years in the scholastic game, it’s hard to figure out which of the other games in this tournament are going to the best games to watch.

Sure, there are great teams coming in, such as Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.), and North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.). But there are plenty of teams with great stories, such as the Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.), Charlotte Myers Park (N.C.), and Buffalo Nichols School (N.Y.).

We’ll try to have our usual three-part preview the week of the tournament with context and perspective you won’t get anywhere else.

August 10, 2022 — גביע גדול לקבוצת הוקי שדה אמריקאית

I didn’t want to go too much further without acknowledging an unprecedented achievement by an American field hockey team at a world competition last month.

For it was in the 21st Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem where the United States bested Argentina 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation play, winning its first gold medal in the Games. It is also the first time a U.S. national team has won a world title in any field hockey competition.

The Maccabiah Games are a quadrennial multisport athletic competition for Jewish athletes. Starting in 1932, it has grown to become one of the three biggest sporting events in the world outside the Olympics, drawing roughly 10,000 of participants from around the world. The Games today are organized by the International Maccabiah Committee and are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee and World Federation of Sports.

As such, field hockey has been part and parcel of the Games for decades, but the Americans, despite sending some great players to Israel to compete, have come up short of gold.

Not this time.

The United States, in the opening match of pool play, served notice on the rest of the field with a 10-0 shutout of Australia. The States were unbeaten until the final day of pool play, where they lost 5-0 to Argentina, the team’s Pan-American nemesis over the years.

The Stars and Stripes broke into the lead in the final when Dylan Breier, late of Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.) connected in the 38th minutes. A second goal from Paige Forrester, a mechanical engineering undergrad at MIT, staked the Americans to a 2-0 lead.

The Albicelestes drew level, however, sending the game to overtime. After the two halves of overtime finished scoreless, the game went to the penalty shootout.

The game-winning effort came from Julia Freedman, an undergraduate at Yale. The overall result is a step from the Americans’ silver-medal five years ago at the last Maccabiah Games.

A hearty “Well-played!” from this corner. Or should we say, “משוחק יפה“?

Aug. 8, 2022 — Hard to fathom

The history of the Commonwealth Games has been one of frustration for the women of England.

Since field hockey became a medal sport at Kuala Lampur 1998, Team England has never failed to make the medal stand on the women’s side, but were winless in three trips to the final.

That is, until yesterday. England, with four debutantes filling in for Team GB members who left the team after Tokyo, played confident and skilled hockey in beating Australia 2-1.

For the most part, however, the game did not play out like a one-goal game. England kept the Hockeyroos at bay with possession, and goalie Maddie Hinch saw barely a shot through three-quarter time.

That allowed Holly Hunt and Tess Howard to net the game-winners in the second quarter only a few minutes apart.

The result is unprecedented, yet puzzling. England/Team GB has won a number of world trophies over the years, including the Rio Olympics. But the British Isles have never won an FIH World Cup. Indeed, after winning seven IFWHA championships through 1975, the Roses have seen their tournament luck run cold.

It’s an interesting time for women’s field hockey in England and Great Britain. With expectations at an all-time high for the national women’s soccer team after the recent Euro title, it will be interesting to see whether the best female athletes will be picking up a hockey stick as a first option.

Aug. 3, 2022 — Who has the real pulse on scholastic sport in the U.S.?

I wrote yesterday about how USA Today, a national newspaper which is now supported by a network of local papers in the Gannett chain, handed out the awards for the finest high-school athletes in numerous athletic pursuits for the 2021-22 academic year.

You might think that, with 100 affiliates in the daily ranks and 1,000 weekly newspapers, that it would have the kind of necessary reach to pick the best scholastic athletes.

But does that reach actually reach everybody? We wrote a year ago about Fran Frieri, who had just broken the record for the most goals scored in a girls’ lacrosse season. She had mentioned that the local newsgathering organization covering Lockport, Ill. had shuttered during the pandemic.

And I have a feeling Lockport is not alone.

I have seen a number of journalistic organizations come and go over the years. I’ve seen the debut and denouement of numerous high-school sports shows, whether on ESPN and on local TV sponsored by newspapers like The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post.

And regrettably, I have seen more than one field hockey-centric sports website come and go over the last quarter-century.

I’ve been very lucky to be able to put my pulse on both field hockey and lacrosse nationwide over the last 24 years, and to be able to see people who carried the torch for their respective activity either as a player or in the coaching box.

One thing I’m also seeing in the last year or so, however, are players who are literally making themselves into a brand. We’ve seen female athletes making more than a million dollars from telecommunications companies by making content extolling the virtues of mobile technology.

We’ve also seen “influencers” who, by virtue of the number of followers on their social media sites, can not only make money from the companies with which they partner, but can also create worldwide markets for those companies through a well-targeted video or picture.

And you know something? It’s being allowed through the rules of not only the NCAA, but by state governing bodies of sport.

Want some context? Have a look at this map, generated by OpenDorse.com:

In this map, wide swaths of football country from Arizona to Florida up to Ohio do not allow high-school students to make money off their name, likeness, and image. There are, however, some states such as California, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which do allow NLI rights.

It’s led to some interesting developments. One saw a top football prospect from Texas deciding to forego his senior year at his local school to sign an NLI deal worth more than $1 million.

We also saw Ashley Sessa, the talismanic forward who has been playing in the U.S. system to the point where she has 11 national-team caps, sign a deal with STX, wearing socks with that logo along with her Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) uniform last fall.

I have a feeling this is going to be the next big thing in scholastic sport.

Aug. 2, 2022 — Some well-deserved hardware

Over the weekend, USA Today presented its annual high-school sports awards, which covers a pretty wide panoply of scholastic sports.

I don’t know if the selectors have been following this site, but I do find it interesting that the national scoring champions for girls lacrosse and field hockey — Fran Frieri and Ryleigh Heck — won the national player of the year in both sports.

Why? If you went by the pool of players listed as nominees for each sport, as well as the three finalists in each sport, you’d be pretty amazed.

Frieri, who wasn’t selected for the Under Armour All-America Game, beat out two players who did: Kori Edmonson of Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) and Peep Williams of Binghamton Seton Catholic (N.Y.). But also in the pool of nominees are a number of players who are going to become part of the national scene very soon, such as Madison Beale of Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.), Shea Dolce of Darien (Conn.), and Caroline Godine of Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.).

Heck, who was just recently selected to the U.S. senior women’s national team pool, had to beat out Maci Bradford of Delmar (Del.) and Alaina McVeigh of Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.) in the group of finalists. But also in the group of nominees was Ashley Sessa of Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) and Josie Hollamon of Delmar (Del.), both of whom are also in the U.S. women’s national team pool. Too, one of the nominees was fellow 100-goal scorer Talia Schenck of Lawrence (N.J.).

Fran Frieri and Ryleigh Heck are headed off to their respective universities to start preseason: Frieri with lacrosse at Notre Dame, Heck with field hockey at North Carolina. Fair or not, both will have outsized expectations on their performances at the college level.

But I have a feeling that a lot of the other field hockey and lacrosse players who were nominated for the USA Today Awards are also going to be preparing for some absolutely boffo debut seasons during the 2022-23 college year.

Aug. 1, 2022 — Some annual housekeeping

Hi, all. As the domestic field hockey season begins this month with college friendlies as well as the Apple Tournament and the Gateway Invitational, our site is going its usual changeover from field hockey to lacrosse.

We’ll have our Fearless 5ive previews for NCAA Division I, II, and III, and we’ll also have our back-of-the-envelope preseason Top 10 towards the end of the month. On which platform we’re going to be releasing these, that’s yet to be determined.

We’re also keeping an eye on the transfer portal, which really altered the landscape of college sports and could give the first-year Clemson program a rocket boost of talent that other recent startups never had.

Now, you’ll notice in our Chasing History section to the right of this story, we’ve changed the listings of the inactive players from orange to black as the achievements of last year’s seniors blend into history.

This includes field hockey’s Ryleigh Heck and lacrosse’s Fran Frieri, both of whom set records during the past academic year.

And it seems these records have gotten their holders a certain degree of attention. More on that tomorrow.