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Archive for Field hockey

April 21, 2018 — A change in recruitment, but is it the right one?

This week, the NCAA Division I Council voted to change a very important date in the recruitment calendar of high-school athletes.

The day is Sept. 1 of a potential student-athlete’s junior year of high school. That’s the first day that a player may make an official visit to a university campus, and the first day of permissible contact between a coaching staff and a recruit.

The vote, made during meetings of the Council last Tuesday and Wednesday, was spun by the NCAA as some sort of major initiative:

[M]ost prospective student-athletes will follow a recruiting model that resembles the schedule other students follow when choosing where to go to college … The new recruiting model allows potential student-athletes more time to make thoughtful decisions about their next steps after high school.

The rules were written for every NCAA sport except for football and men’s and women’s basketball. A few sports, like softball, see the rules as necessary given the number of 8th-10th grade commitments that have become the norm, especially amongst mid-major softball programs.

It must, however, be pointed out that there have been more than enough sophomore, freshman, and even middle-school commitments which have hit the news in both field hockey and girls’ lacrosse the last three years.

Indeed, when Syracuse announced that it had landed Caitlyn Wurzburger, an attacker now playing for Florida powerhouse Delray American Heritage (Fla.), a vote one year ago this week amongst NCAA lacrosse coaches put a ban on certain kinds of contact before Sept. 1 of a recruit’s junior season.

Sound familiar?

That’s pretty much the same legislation that was passed by the NCAA Council this week to cover most of the rest of Division I scholarship programs, albeit the Division I softball coaches have put down more severe strictures in a separate vote.

Now, it’s dubious what the long-term impact is going to be. In field hockey, a number of players have already escaped before the barn door closed. Carly Hynd, a freshman from Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.), committed a few weeks ago to the University of Maryland. And rising senior Sammy Popper, who contributed to the United States senior women’s indoor national team a few months ago, had committed to Princeton during her freshman year at Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.).

I do not know how many more freshmen or sophomores will be precluded from making verbal commitments or early decisions. I guess it’s the hope that the NCAA Council’s vote will give parents more time to make a good decision about their child’s future, or whether the Council will adopt softball’s stronger rules governing phone contact between coaches and recruits.

But given the national-team, professional, or Olympic dreams of some of these players and the single-mindedness of some to do whatever it takes to pick the right college, there will still be a handful of very elite players who will take an early plunge, sometimes just to get the decision over with.


April 16, 2018 — Seeing double, moreover

A quarter of a century ago, the field hockey team at Florence (N.J.) Memorial boasted three sets of twins — the Luybers, the Correntis, and the Careys, whose niece Lexi Smith would eventually break the National Federation record for career field hockey goals.

This year, another team in the capital region of New Jersey has a similar story, but it is a girls’ lacrosse team. Read Joe O’Gorman’s notes about the four (yes, four) sets of twins at Lawrence Notre Dame (N.J.).

April 9, 2018 — Meanwhile, at the Nook

This week is an important one for the U.S. women’s national field hockey team as this week’s four-match Test series is the last audition for hopefuls for making the World Cup team this summer.

The extended roster is missing a handful of veteran players such as Katelyn Ginofili, Erin Matson, and Michelle Vittese, but will be offering golden opportunities to players such as Anna Dessoye, Taylor West, and Mary Beth Barham. Barham, you may remember, was a veteran of the U.S. women’s indoor national team, which won an unforgettable match against Argentina to get into the FIH Indoor World Cup.

The four matches will be played in very changeable weather conditions. There is projectected rain and sleet this evening, but the temperatures could reach 80 degrees by the time the last match is played this weekend.

Should be an interesting time for the physios, equipment managers, and the players when it comes to climate adjustment.

March 29, 2018 — A mess in Lausanne?

I’ve been sitting on this for the last few days, looking for some correlation, confirmation, or response. But, given what I know about international governing bodies of sport, the narrative in this story is, regrettably, completely plausible.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

March 26, 2018 — History, repeating

It was only about two weeks ago when a video of a pair of Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) students singing along to a hip-hop song using a racial slur went viral. Some 2.5 million people saw the video, which included junior national field hockey team member Charlotte de Vries. She was suspended from the United States’ team and from school, and issued an apology.

Today, the attention is focused on the Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse team, which filmed itself singing along to a hip-hop song using racial slurs.

To its credit, Virginia Tech and its coaching staff has been out in front of the story, issuing an apology on behalf of the team and John Sung, the head coach, being transparent about how he is handling the situation.

“They’ve got to be educated to make better decisions,” said Sung. “They’ve got to know what’s socially acceptable, and I think they’re learning all these things. A lot of it is on me as the leader. People forget — I’m a minority.”

Indeed, that’s the shame of the situation, where the young women representing the Virginia Tech program chose to broadcast the video to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

It’s this kind of thing that does not do honor to the game.

March 12, 2018 — The latest in a long line

Davis & Elkins. Philadelphia University. Rhode Island. The University of Maryland at Baltimore County. Radford. Missouri State.

And today, Siena College, the small liberal-arts college in Loudonville, N.Y., announced that it was joining the aforelisted teams in shuttering its varsity field hockey team.

For a sport which has added teams in Brooklyn, Arkansas, and South Carolina over the last two decades, the erosion of field teams at the collegiate level has given the impression of a sport on a treadmill when it comes to growth.

Thing is, as far as I know, none of the teams that were jettisoned ever came back, even in this era of petitions and GoFundMe pages. And even after a momentary insurrection of the UMBC team back in 2007, there is currently no organized team that is part of the National Field Hockey League.

What we do know is that a 40-year tradition of women’s sports at Siena has been jettisoned.

And for the 17 student-athletes on the team and those who might have been considering the university, it’s one less outlet for the sport in this country.

March 9, 2018 — A scandal for a technological age

The Internet universe has been all a-flutter late today, because a member of the United States U-19 national field hockey team was filmed uttering racially inflammatory language on an Instagram Live video.

The student was identified by classmates as junior midfielder Charlotte de Vries, one of the nation’s leading goal-scorers the past couple of years, who made a verbal commitment some time ago to attend the University of North Carolina.

The backlash was strong, and the consequences immediate. USA Field Hockey, through its Twitter feed, announced, without mentioning names, that the player was suspended until the matter could be reviewed.

There was also a vicious Twitterstorm late Friday, with a number of people weighing in, including a former member of the UNC men’s basketball team. Some went so far as to ask that North Carolina withdraw her scholarship.

Now, there’s a problem with that: de Vries has not signed a National Letter of Intent because she is a junior. As a result, UNC doesn’t have a scholarship to revoke.

Too, if UNC makes it known that she is no longer welcome to apply to the university, there are 79 other Division I universities with field hockey programs, and at least one of them will welcome her with open arms as well as perhaps a community service or racial sensitivity training requirement.

This is a very difficult situation all around, including on a personal level. Your Founder has gotten to know the de Vries family over the years, and Kerry de Vries is not only one of the best two-sport athletes (softball and field hockey) in the history of the University of Iowa, she’s also a straight shooter who will tell you what she thinks and does not suffer fools gladly.

That being said, what her daughter said in the viral video is wrong, always has been wrong, and will always be wrong. But as ugly as the video may be, I think a nuanced approach is best when it comes to next steps.

Why? Charlotte de Vries is a minor, and that she should have a chance to learn from her mistakes as she enters legal adulthood. I believe, unlike the attitude Hollywood has taken against Seinfeld cast member Michael Richards after a video of him uttering racial slurs became viral and ended his career, that de Vries should be given one chance to redeem herself.