USA Field Hockey continues a long-standing holiday tradition Thanksgiving weekend when the sport’s national governing body conducts its annual National Hockey Festival, 22-24 November at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.
The world’s largest amateur field hockey event, the 2007 Festival features 224 teams representing 26 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The more than 3,500 athletes will compete for titles in Women’s Age Group (Under 16 and Under 19), Women’s Open and Mixed (co-ed) divisions and will play 676 games on 26 fields during the event.
"This is such a wonderful venue," said USA Field Hockey’s Asst. Executive Director for Events Karen Collins on the Festival’s return to the Empire Polo Club for a sixth time. "The fields are excellent and the weather is beautiful. The players, the parents, the officials – everyone always looks forward to spending their Thanksgiving here in Indio."
The Under 19 tournament is the Festival’s largest division with a newly expanded field of 147 teams competing for 21 pool championships. In addition to providing a showcase for the sport and the chance for athletes to compete against players from across the country, the Festival allows prospective college athletes an opportunity to perform before a gallery of collegiate coaches gathered from some of the nation’s top programs.
The age-group division also features some current and former U.S. National Team players on their coaching staffs including Field Hockey Hall of Famer Mary Ann Harris (1958-72) of U19 Souderton Strikers (Pa.), Linda Krieser (1972-78) of the U19 Barracudas (Pa.), Kristin McCann (2000-04) of U19 Colonial (Va.), Tracey Larson Arndt (1999-04) assisting with U19 Mystx Storm (Pa.), Caroline Nichols (2006-pres.) assisting with U19 High Voltage (Va.), Lauren Crandall (2005- pres.) of Mid-State, Tara Jelley Danielson (1998-2005) and 1996 Olympian Steve Danielson (1990- pres.) of U19 Rush (Calif.), 1984 Olympian Nigel Traverso (1983-95) of U19 Jersey Intensity Black (N.J.), Todd Broxmeyer (1998) of U19 and U16 Devils (N.Y.) and Shawn Hindy (1996-pres.) of U19 and U16 First Class (Pa.).
One of the Festival’s most competitive divisions, the Open Division features U.S. Olympians Laurel Martin (’96) and Liz Tchou (’96) of defending champion Red Rose in addition to current and former National Team players, current collegiate coaches and recent college All-Americans competing for top honors.
The event marks the 12th time California has hosted the Festival. Indio and the Empire Polo Club entertained the tournament in 2006, 2003, 2002, 1997 and 1995, while Irvine (’87, ’88, ’90, ’93) and Long Beach (’83, ’84) also played host to the event. Competition runs throughout the day during the four days of the Festival with games beginning at 7:00 a.m. (9 a.m. Sunday). Final games of the day are scheduled for 3:00 p.m. (noon Sunday). Admission to the event is free of charge. Parking at the Empire Polo Club is available for a daily fee.
Originating as the National Sectional Championships and national team selection tournament in 1922, the Festival adopted its current multi-divisional format in 1981 by introducing tournaments for high school-aged players, club and open teams.
During the event, USA Field Hockey will remind participants to play safe in the sun as part of its Sun Safe Play campaign to help promote awareness of melanoma and skin cancer. Dedicated to the memory of former USA Field Hockey team member Maria Whitehead, the campaign is an effort by the USA Field Hockey National Team and the Melanoma International Foundation to provide athletes who regularly play, practice and compete in the sun with educational information on melanoma and skin cancer prevention. A member of USA Field Hockey Junior National Teams and a standout for National Champion Wake Forest Univ., Whitehead died from melanoma in November 2006.
Additional information on the Festival, as well as teams, results and rosters is available on the USA Field Hockey Festival website at www.usfieldhockey.com/festival/.
Source: USA Field Hockey
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