Steve Locke is the Executive Director of USA Field Hockey, joining the organisation in 2010. Under his leadership, USA Field Hockey has shown growth in a number of areas including membership, club development, youth development, umpire recruitment and sponsorship.
Locke has overseen the development of a sustainable youth program that exposed the sport to thousands of boys and girls in its first year in 2012. Most recently, Locke secured a Home of Hockey in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which will serve as the home base for USA Field Hockey events and home for the U.S. Women’s National Team through 2022.
Serving in an executive role for USA Triathlon and USA Water Ski over the last 20 years, Locke’s track record has consistently been that of financial growth and sport development. During his tenure as Executive Director of USA Water Ski, Locke directed all operations of the nine discipline sports, improved organizational profitability and instituted several new membership programs. As the Chief Executive Officer for USA Triathlon, Locke led initiatives that increased membership, grew the organization’s annual budget, initiated new sponsorship relationships and created a reserve fund through generated profits.
In an exclusive interview with FIH.CH, Steve Locke talks about the USAFH’s Grow the Game campaign, the priorities of the next 12 months and how his organisation managed to get hockey played on the front lawn of one of the most famous buildings in the world - The White House.
FIH.CH: Hi Steve, many thanks for talking to us. How is everything going at USA Field Hockey?
Steve Locke: “Thank you chatting with us. So far, 2013 has been astounding. Some highlights have been naming Craig Parnham head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, launching two programs, ‘You Go Girl’ and ‘Play It Forward’, in conjunction with our ‘Grow the Game’ campaign and announcing a partnership that will make Nook Sports the home of hockey and base of the U.S. Women’s National Team through 2022.
“Nook Sports will soon become one of the largest sport complexes in the world. It will not only provide USA Field Hockey with a platform to best prepare our National Teams for success on the international stage but it will also serve as center of excellence for developing the sport and athletes of all ages.
“’You Go Girl’ will introduce field hockey to young women and girls, ages 10-18, in non-traditional or at-risk communities with the help of NCAA student-athletes through a mentorship program, while ‘Play It Forward’, sponsored by STX, will help recycle gently used field hockey equipment to donate to boys and girls and programs in need.
“We have certainly been busy but are excited about our latest developments and the future of hockey in the USA!”
FIH.CH: That all sounds fantastic. We recently covered your launch of the ambitious Grow the Game campaign. Can you tell our readers a bit more about this project and what it aims to achieve in the long term?
SL: “We are very excited to have recently announced our latest development initiative, Grow the Game, which is an all-encompassing campaign to further develop field hockey in the United States. We remain committed to exposing the sport, inspiring participation and providing opportunities for young boys and girls, coaches, umpires and adults to learn, develop and play the great game of field hockey.
“In 2012, USA Field Hockey launched FUNdamental Field Hockey, which is a youth development initiative designed to expose the sport to thousands of children nationwide by providing free equipment and emphasizing fun, physical activity. In our first year, we launched 250 programs across the United States and introduce the sport to nearly 20,000 boys and girls.
“With the success of FUNdamental Field Hockey, we are eager to expand on this program and provide additional opportunities for youth, boys, coach, umpire and adult development that will continue to ‘Grow the Game’ in the United States and foster the growth of the sport in new and non-traditional areas. In 2013 and beyond, we will give away thousands of sticks, offer free clinics and educational online tools and increase participation in field hockey events across the United States.”
FIH.CH: We realise that it is still early days in the campaign, but has there been an enthusiastic response to the project?
SL: “We have seen an extremely enthusiastic response in our development initiatives which kicked off with 20,000 boys and girls trying field hockey for the first time in 2012 and we are extremely excited to continue to get first-timers to try the sport and provide opportunities for many to grow and develop a passion for the game.
“We recognize that members, communities and clubs help us ‘Grow the Game’ on a daily basis so to thank them and kick off the campaign with a bang, we decided to give away a $1,000 shopping spree with a USA Field Hockey Grow the Game sponsor to the best video submission on how hockey enthusiasts in the U.S. are growing the game. We look forward to sharing our favourite videos with the hockey world!”
FIH.CH: We also noticed that you recently managed to get some hockey played on the front lawn of The White House! How on earth did you manage that?!
SL: “Last year USA Field Hockey and the FUNdamental Field Hockey program partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative – a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity so that children can grow up healthier and pursue their dreams.
“We were extremely excited to be invited to the White House lawn to celebrate the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll alongside 30,000 children! On the South Lawn of the White House, professional, Olympic, and Paralympic athletes from numerous sports encouraged children to eat healthy and stay active. Members of the U.S. National Team helped children select a stick, adjust their grip and guide them through a course that ended with a shot on a miniature goal.
“Lets Move! is a profoundly important initiative that USA Field Hockey wholeheartedly supports. We remain committed to helping thousands of kids across the U.S. get active and pick up a stick.”
FIH.CH: Finally, What would you say are the top priorities for USAFH over the next 12 months?
SL: “We plan to invest considerable efforts and resources in using The Nook, our new home of hockey, as a base for further development of the sport; We are looking into developing a semi-professional league for post-collegiate women; We will continue to expand and improve coaching and athlete curricula in the various programs we maintain; We recently developed an event sanctioning program that will expand the number of privately conducted events in the U.S.; We will continue to improve our national ranking processes and work with our high performance teams to work toward improved FIH rankings with continued competitions against the top teams in the world; We will try to properly underwrite more international events in the United States; and generate more and more recreational opportunities for boys and girls and women and men of all ages. Further, this July we will launch a new Safe Sport initiative designed to provide safe environments for athletes through the prevention of bullying and abuse."
For more information about USA Field Hockey, please visit http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Field-Hockey.aspx
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