As members of the US Field Hockey Foundation Board of Trustees, my wife and I were invited by the Head Coach of the US Women’s National Team, Anthony Farry to attend a practice, and meet the current team members. The team currently practices at the Proving Grounds in Conshohoken, Pa. At the present time, there are about 20 players hard at work preparing for a European trip in May. They will soon be joined by about 5 more, who are still busy with the NCAA tournament.
Coach Farry briefly described his training regime to us, emphasizing these are women who are not only sacrificing to wear the red, white, and blue but are already accomplished and skilled athletes. The challenge will be meshing all that talent into a smooth, cohesive unit. In the end, it will be real game experience that will do that. They will travel this spring with 30 players, first to Belgium, then to England and his goals are to see how the team works together.
He introduced us to his coaching team, assistant Coach Greg Drake, Kyle McMinn strength and conditioning coach, and team manager Krista Page. Most impressive was a demonstration of the technology being used in the conditioning process. Coach McMinn showed us how they use the POLAR GPS system to keep tabs on work rate and efficiency on the practice field. The system tracks total movement and uses algorithms to measure and score performance, the idea is not just rate but is the athlete being efficient in their movements. In addition, each teams member has watch which can track sleep patterns. All this data is available to be downloaded to the coaches and each individual athletes.
Much of the practice consisted of two goals about thirty yards apart with a goal keeper in each cage and two attacking teams practicing close in shots. Meanwhile, the rest practiced team drills on another part of the field. In addition, there were practice shoot outs where we marveled at the various skills of these women.
We had a chance to visit with Amanda Magadan ( Lafayette grad) who has the most experience at this point with 82 caps. Yes, this is a young team just now trying to discover its personality. They are all looking forward to the spring FIH games. In June, they will be returning to the US for a series of games in Virginia Beach. The Beach and US Field Hockey sounds like the formula for a great week end!!