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Archive for Field hockey

Jan. 19, 2017 — The comeback begins

The last time any of us saw Katie Bam on a hockey pitch, she was trying to take space against the German defense in the final five minutes of the Olympic quarterfinal.

An untidy stick tackle left Bam, the United States’ leading scorer in the 2016 Olympics, crumpled on the Deodoro Stadium turf with a knee injury.

Bam spent the fall as an assistant coach for Harvard alongside her husband, former South African international Marvin Bam. She also did her rehabilitation about 375 miles away from Spooky Nook.

Now that the U.S. team is beginning to reconvene for training as well as play in the Pan American Cup this summer, Bam has found a coaching position close by Spooky Nook — and, as it turns out, close to her heart.

Katie Bam, this fall, will be an assistant coach with the University of Maryland. That is, when she’s not playing or training with the U.S. team at Spooky Nook, which is 110 miles away.

It’s a great fit, I think, especially with the talent that is coming onto the team for spring hockey.

Jan. 17, 2017 — Hopefully, not a trend

The world of field hockey coaching is full of experienced masters of motivation and tactics who become institutions in their respective schools or universities.

But the open question is, who is going to step in to be the next generation of Missy Mehargs, or Nancy Williamses, or Char Moretts, or Sue Butz-Stavins?

Field hockey is a difficult-enough job already without having the perception that you’re having to replace a legend. As such, Cory (Picketts) Terry did a remarkable job as head field hockey coach at Ocean City (N.J.). Taking over from the team’s founder, Trish LeFever, Terry created her own story, her own narrative. She was unafraid of taking on the very best in the sport, even coming to Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) to provide competition for visiting Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.).

Terry won three state championships as a coach at Ocean City, and developed a team which came into every game ready to compete, no matter what the circumstances. Indeed, there was a game this year which involved two hours of travel and a cold, wet rain. But the Raiders came out on top 3-1 against a good Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (N.J.) team.

I think it would have been awesome to see what Terry would have done with the players left over on the team this fall after the graduation of the seniors. But, I guess, we’ll never know, as Terry resigned from the coaching position.

Jan. 11, 2017 — One sound, gone worldwide

There’s still a disc somewhere containing some of the experimental recordings I did on a Sony MiniDisc when I went to the opening day of the 2007 Pennsylvania field hockey season. It was Aug. 30, 2007, and the opponents were Levittown Pennsbury (Pa.) and Flourtown Mount St. Joseph Academy (Pa.).

It was a typical late-summer afternoon in Pennsylvania, on a grass pitch which had been freshly cut out for the season. Pennsbury, for years, has played its home matches under a small grove of trees at the corner of the school where Penn Valley Road turns into Hood Boulevard.

Through the Sennheiser boom microphone, I tried a number of different experiments with sound, trying to pick up the sounds of birds in the trees, trying to pick up conversations, and tire noise from the cars leaving the school.

And then, through the microphone and stereo headphones, I heard this “click.” It wasn’t a smack, a slap, or a clank, but a click that told you that the player — whoever it was — had struck the ball flush on the front face of the stick. It was a sound borne of purpose, hundreds of hours of technique, and deadly purpose. It’s the kind of sound you don’t hear all that often.

The player wielding the stick on this occasion was Katie Reinprecht. The high-school senior had a pair of goals and an assist on the day. Also on the pitch that day was her sister Julia, and she had the fourth goal for the Magic in a 4-0 win over Pennsbury.

The Reinprecht sisters have done a lot together. They were on the cusp of PIAA championship success, they brought Princeton University a national championship in 2012, and they combined for some 500 appearances for the U.S. women’s national field hockey team.

In those 500 caps, Katie and Julie Reinprecht were integral to the rejuvenation of the U.S. team’s fortunes after some two decades in the Olympic wilderness (save for the time they qualified as hosts in 1996). The sisters were part and parcel of not one, but two Pan American Games gold medals. They also played on the team that won the first major trophy in the history of the U.S. women’s national program when they won the 2014 FIH Champions Challenge.

Yesterday, they announced their retirement from international field hockey. They will leave gaping holes in the midfield and on defense; Katie Reinprecht was a fine attacking player who distributed to the front line with speed and accuracy. Julia Reinprecht was an amazingly effective corner flyer in an era where the rules and tactics almost made a flyer obsolete. But the younger sister showed immense personal courage during her career, competing even after suffering a severe head injury.

Their departure comes at an interesting time in the development of the game in the United States. With a number of young players competing both indoor and outdoor on the U-21 and senior levels, there is a cohort of record-breaking talent out there.

But they’re going to have to go some distance to match the Reinprechts’ accomplishments on the pitch. They’ll be missed.

 

Jan. 10, 2017 — Dark shadows in Lansing

Today, a lawsuit was filed by 18 women, including gymnasts, field hockey players, and swimmers, alleging that Larry Nasser, the former team physician for the U.S. gymnastics team, engaged in a nearly 20-year pattern of sexual misconduct on the job.

Nasser was also employed by Michigan State University as a team doctor, and, through testimony and media reports, is alleged to have leveraged his position to gain access to young women.

This lawsuit comes a month after Nasser was arrested on federal child pornography charges and three months after Nasser was fired from Michigan State following an investigative report put together by The Indianapolis Star.

Nassar, 53, had been a faculty member at the MSU’s college of osteopathic medicine, and used that prestige to become the team doctor for several Spartan athletic teams. He worked with USA Gymnastics from 1986 to 2015, departing under a cloud shortly before the Rio Olympics.

It would appear as though that cloud has caught up to him.

Jan. 9, 2017 — A thankless job may have gotten a transformative figure

The U.S. men’s national field hockey team has had a recent history which has been full of loss after loss at the highest levels.

Indeed, the United States has not qualified for an Olympics when it has not been the host country since 1956, and has never qualified for the FIH World Cup.

The United States has brought in plenty of coaches over the last 30 years to try to turn around the fortunes of the men’s program, and to inspire young men to try the sport if they have burnt out of soccer.

But Rutger Weise knows a lot about the American field hockey culture. He has played in the Indoor Premier League in the United States, has coached at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and has acted as team manager for the United States U-21s.

His enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport is well-known amongst the American field hockey community.

And he just might be what men’s field hockey needs in order to succeed in this country.

Jan. 8, 2017 — A good start towards the Indoor Pan Ams

The United States indoor national team took a split squad to the Rohrmax Cup indoor field hockey tournament for a good run-out before trying to qualify for the next Indoor Hockey World Cup.

The States did pretty well, with the USA Red team winning the championship with three wins and a draw in five matches. Indeed, the only team to beat them was the USA Blue team, which won 5-0 in the opening game of the entire tournament as Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) star Corinne Zanolli had a pair of goals.

But the USA Red team, led by UNC-bound Meredith Sholder, was made of sterner stuff. The Reds beat the host side, SV Arminen, 3-2, with Sholder having a goal and an assist against the team boasting the FIH World Indoor Player of the Year,  Asia Wieloch of Poland.

In the final game of the tournament, the Reds got a pair of goals from Holland Council Rock South (Pa.) star Riley Donnelly to beat the Switzerland U-21 national team to win the Rohrmax Cup.

The tournament is in preparation for the Pan American Hockey Federation’s Indoor Championship, which will qualify teams to the 2018 Indoor World Cup in Argentina.

Jan. 2, 2017 — We’re back (we think)

Last Friday, thanks in part to our release of the identity of the 2017 United States Coach of the Year, our site crashed.

At least, we thought so. I didn’t think it plausible that the populations of Mount Joy, Marietta, Mayfield, and Donegal Heights could have resulted in the dreaded 404 screen, symbolizing that too many people were trying to access the site at once. This site has handled thousands of visitors before, led by the quadrupleheaders of girls’ lacrosse games in the New York/Maryland challenge of a few years ago when it seemed half the population of Long Island was on the site.

But in looking into the situation, it seems our host company was transitioning everyone over from the usual disk-based hosting into a cloud-based service, and we spent a good amount of time over the last three days getting everything put together behind the scenes.

You might not have noticed much during the last few days, but there is a lot of work in getting a website to operate adequately, and to get the two parts of the site to talk to each other properly. There was a time last night when I could only upload as many as 19 text and data files at a time. It’s a lot of rote work, but we think it looks and works as good as new.

Well, at least until the next time 10,000 people need to read something at once.