Growing The Game

Several weeks ago my wife and I got a call from Missy Meharg the head coach of the University of Maryland field hockey team asking us to serve on the Board of Trustees for the USA Field Hockey Foundation. As parents and grandparents of field hockey players and an active supporter of the game through our activities at Lafayette College we were indeed interested to further promote the game nationally. We have seen an evolution not only in Field Hockey over the last 30 years,  but in women’s sports in general. However, since field hockey in the United States holds a special place for women as a scholastic and collegiate sport, we believe its promotion can play a.unique role in supported athletics for women.

Amanda Magadan shows her skills against Holland

Within days, of Coach Meharg’s phone call,  the chair of the USA Field Hockey Foundation, Pam Stuper, the Head Coach at Yale, made a visit to our house to explain the role that the Foundation plays in the promotion and development of the sport.

My wife can remember field hockey of the 60’s, not only playing on grass, but with restrictive rules, and in her case it was purely an intramural sport in high school,  with a similar role in colleges. It really wasn’t until Title IX and the intercollegiate explosion of the sport, on the collegiate level, that the game started to take off. Ironically, it was an Olympic sport for the longest time, introduced to this country at the turn of the century.

As the opportunities for competition increased, rules were modified, playing surfaces improved the game, which demanded improved athletic skills. At Lafayette, women were first admitted in 1972 and field hockey was one of the first sports offered. It was played on an undulating grass field, a far cry from the technically superior astro-turf 12 presently in use. Today, virtually every Division One field is of this type. In fact, a NCAA sanctioned post season game is mandated to be played on that or similar surfaces. Lafayette had an initial schedule of about  4 games,there were no lights, no stands and few fans to watch the games.

Liza Welch, Cody Hunsicker and Ellen Colbourne show a future star how its done in pre game ceremonies

Likewise the governance of the sport evolved as the athletes improved. Today, there is even a new professional league which will provide funding and competition for our highest elite players.

It’s within this context that Pam and I decided to become members of the Board. At first you may think it’s responsibility is just to fund the Olympic Team. Today, it defines its mission as, Grow the Game, Serve Members, and Succeed Internationally. 

field hockey 1976
Amelia Erikson ’76 demonstrates skill with an old style stick in the deep grass. The previous season this team was 5-2-2. Amelia is now an MD OBGYN in California!!

It’s the first element that attracted us, because everything follows from that. Under the able chairmanship of Pam Stuper, this energetic Board, along with the Board of USA Field Hockey has mapped up a series of events to serve the sport at many levels.

For example, there is a first ever Field Hockey Summit being held in Baltimore March 16-18. ( See the USA Field Hockey web site for details). It is designed to promote and develop the sport not only for current participants but future generations, uniting the community  and harnessing everyone’s passion through a shared weekend experience. There are three days of clinics and presentations for umpires, coaches, players, and fans. It would be too cumbersome to detail all the events here but I urge you to go the web site and click to see everything that is offered. Included in the weekend is a gala dinner where people will be inducted to the Field Hockey Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Yes, the Foundation still supports the US national team with generous grants and events, but I think it and US Field Hockey will be totally served by Growing The Game!! As the 2020 games approach I can see the excitement build and Pam and I are excited to be a small part of it. We live close by Spooky Nook, the national practice facility for the team, and it gives us an extra incentive to go and cheer on these hardworking athletes who represent our nation so admirably!!

Lafayette Field Hockey Plans Trip To South Africa


In a newsletter sent to alumni,parents, and fans Head Coach Jennifer Stone announced plans to take the Lafayette Field Hockey team to Capetown, South Africa to compete with local teams and sample life in a different culture.  In her newsletter, Coach Stone explains the reasons for the trip. ” My objective for the Lafayette Field Hockey program is to create an opportunity where every player who plays for LCFH gets to experience hockey abroad. Hockey is a worldly sport, as reflected in our own team here at Lafayette. To be able to play and EXPERIENCE hockey abroad is an incredible gift…….Our previous tours have been to Holland, London and Barcelona. Every graduating player since 2013 has experienced a hockey tour abroad.”  

Stone noted that the trip was made possible by the significant generosity from our supporters, families, friends, and alumni. She wants to continue the tradition and the pay the same gift forward to our future leopards.

The team will leave on May 29th and return June the 7th. They will play four matches at local clubs and will have a clinic by a professional coach while there. They will also provide a clinic of their own to less privileged students through the courtesy of the Goededacht Trust.

They will also have a chance to Safari at the Aquila Game Reserve, do team surfing, visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, visit the Cape of Good Hope and sample a traditional African dinner and dancing, among other activities.

The team will have to prepare for the trip by having additional practices starting May 20th before leaving by plane from JFK. They will need several vaccines according to team physician Dr. Jeff Goldstein including shots for Hep A and typhoid.


Hard work getting ready for coming  season

Upon return to campus the team began a series of workouts and exercises to prepare for the spring season. They expect to be back on the turf in March in anticipation of the spring competitions. As of now the following schedule is anticipated:

Saturday March 24 @ Villanova 12 pm

Friday April 6 Monmouth at 6 pm @ home

Sunday April 8 @  Penn for a tournament

Saturday April 14 @ Columbia for a tournament

Saturday April 21 there is a tournament @ home


Using Lafayette’s extensive alumni network many team members were able experience externships during the break. Liza Welch visited schools and businesses in the Boston Area including Harvard Business School and the Harvard Medical School. Jenn DeLongis was at a private law firm and sat in on several criminal case hearings. Adriana Pero had an externship with Dr. Susan Pannullo a noted neurosurgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Cameron Costello shadowed a neonatal surgeon and worked in the NICU. She also got to scrub into a C section!!!

There is other news which I will follow up on in the near future!!