An Inspiring Story Of Boys Field Hockey In USA

Field Hockey In USA

I am currently travelling around the USA so I thought this week was the perfect opportunity to cover a positive story on field hockey in USA. In particular, boys hockey in the USA.

This week’s post is a guest article from Kathy at Boys Field Hockey Hub. It is about a boy daring to dream of playing field hockey for his country at the Olympics. Very inspiring!

‘Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.’ – Kenyan Proverb

Only second to soccer in world popularity, field hockey is played by more men than women. Yet, headlines about boys in the USA who want to play field hockey continue to read ‘boy shut out’, ‘boy kicked off’ or ‘boy faces uphill battle’ 

A story of dedication & resolve…

These are the boys who believe they have the opportunity to affect a change in not only the thinking, but also the trajectory of men’s field hockey in the USA. These are the boys who dream of being competitive in the game of field hockey, boys whose ultimate goal is to be selected for the USA Men’s National Field Hockey Team and who dare to hold Olympic aspirations.     

USA story 1These boys are nothing short of inspirational – they are the underdog who is victorious despite all the odds stacked against them. Cue the music…..cut, cut cut! Remove the rose colored glasses now…..

What does hockey in America REALLY look like for boys?

Here’s a picture….

Dean Schiller grew up playing tag and climbing trees with friends on the sidelines of his twin sisters’ high school hockey games. When his parents decided the time had come for him to ‘start playing a sport’, Dean chose soccer. He played with a YMCA recreational league, participated in summer camps, joined a club and began to travel for tournaments. He practiced two days a week and competed every weekend for approximately 7 months of the year.

In 2012, USAFH invited boys to participate in the National Indoor Tournament (NIT) and Dean thought he would give hockey a try. He was 11 years old. The young boys were mentored by higher level players at the tournament and Andy Thornton, US Men’s Indoor Field Hockey Coach, made his mark. As Dean left the tournament, he knew he had been bitten by the hockey bug.

So….he played with the Newport News Parks and Recreational League, participated in summer camps, joined a club and began to travel for tournaments – Disney, Cal Cup, Festival, 4 Goals Cup, Commonwealth Games and many regional events. He participates in the USAFH Futures program, East Coast High Performance Center, practices and completes strength and injury prevention training two days a week and competes every other month or so for approximately 8 months of the year. Sound familiar?

Yes – sport costs money.

Yes, sport requires a commitment from the family.

Yes, spectators and opponents can be unkind.

But did you ever hear of the resourceful athletic director who preemptively asked the co-ed team to share one of their male players with the opponent’s all-female team so that concerned parents wouldn’t object and potentially scrub the game? It was such an elegant solution and worked like a charm.  

USA story 2

We want to empower boys of all ages to consider not what boys field hockey in America is, but rather what it could become! The support for co-ed field hockey is growing in many states as evidenced by the rapidly increasing number of middle schools and high schools incorporating mixed field hockey into their curriculums. Many high school, club and college coaches are expressing an openness and willingness to train boys alongside girls, primarily because of the non-contact nature of the sport.

There are those who express concerns about boys and girls sharing the pitch and they clearly have a voice and are being heard. However, it is important to note that, to date, the concerns are not data driven. Is the basis of decision making then to be ‘based upon our worst fears rather than our greatest hopes’?USA story 3

USFHA is dedicated to creating inclusive opportunities and inspiring participation for all. To date, there are over 1100 boys and men who are active members of USFHA.

This year, over 20,000 people will pick up a field hockey stick for the first time in the USA. We believe that continuing to ensure that the young girls and boys who pick up a stick will have a fair and equitable chance to represent their respective schools to the best of their ability is an admirable goal.

While it may not be easy, nothing ever worth doing is. Let us choose to support growing awareness of the young men serving as the leaders and role models who are blazing the path and taking the difficult steps necessary to build acceptance of boys’ field hockey in the USA and look to a bright future of National Team players strongly representing the USA. 

You can LIKE the Boys Field Hockey Hub Facebook Page for training, playing, tournament and coaching opportunities for boys in the USA.

If you have any hockey stories or tips you would like to share then contact us at:

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About The Author

Lauren Penny

Lauren is a former International Hockey Player, Performance Coach & Mentor specialising in helping hockey players to be more confident, improve their fitness and perform more consistently to get noticed and reach higher teams.