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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The "The Home Of USA Field Hockey" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking through the Spooky Nook sports complex hunting for the USA Field Hockey Teams practice field.  It was back in 2013 that it was decided to create a "Home of Hockey" in the Northeast where field hockey is most prominent.  At the time the Lancaster-Lebanon League had more than 100 girls participating on the collegiate level in Divisions I, II and III.  My nephew's  high school girlfriend had participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and did very well for the team.  Seems that Pennsylvania is a hotbed for field hockey so to have the National Team located in Pennsylvania is just a natural fit.  The team had been in Chula Vista, California and was planning to make their move to Lancaster as soon as the Spooky Nook venue was completed.  
The fence tells the story that USA Field Hockey is here.
At present, Spooky Nook Sports is the USA Field Hockey's team base for many elite, junior and develop- ment events, including host of the National Futures Champion- ships, Futures Elite Championship and the National Club Championship.  The indoor center is the permanent host of the National Indoor Tournament.  The state-of-the-art facilities includes two water-based turf fields with one being under a climate-controlled dome, six additional artivicial surfaces and over 700,000 square feet of indoor space.  
The outdoor turf field at Spooky Nook in Lancaster County
Locker rooms, strength and condition- ing facilities, conference and lounge area, as well as office space are provided for the team.  The building where this entire facility was built used to be the former Armstrong World Industries Inc. flooring distribution center which is located on a 65-acre plot of land.  The former owner of Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels, Sam Beiler is responsible for the development.  The coach for the Olympic team is Craig Parnham who holds a master's degree in Elite Coaching from the University of Central Lancashire in England.  He is an avid reader of literature on how to create a winning culture.  He was a member of England's field hockey team and got to play in two Olympic games.  After 2004 he retired from playing and took a position on the sidelines as a coach.  He became the USA coach in 2013.  
Entrance to the indoor pressurized dome is through this door
This year's USA team has two players on it from the Lancaster, PA area with Alyssa Manley, who is from nearby Lititz, and Jill Witmer, who resides in Lancaster.  There are 16 team members with 11 of them coming from the state of Pennsylvania.  For those of you who know very little about woman's field hockey, here are a few tip's for you: (1) a match or game consists of 2 halves, usually 35 minutes each, and begins with a pass back (a nondefended pass from one teammate to another at midfield); (2) there are 11 players to a side on the field, one of whom is a goalkeeper.  
Beautiful indoor domed facilities
There are no offsides; (3) the ball must be passed or dribbled down the field with the flat side of the stick; (4) other than the goalkeeper, no player may play the ball with any part of the body; (5) goals, which are worth one point, are scored when the ball crosses the goal line between the goal posts after being touched by the stick of an attacker within the circle; (6) a free hit is awarded to the non-offending side following an infraction and is usually taken at the spot the foul occurs.  As for me, my daughter played 4 years of high school field hockey and I never understood all the rules, even after 4 years.  I'm not sure the officials knew them either.  But, watcing the girls play in the Olympics will be a highlight of these Olympics for me, since I have been reading story after story in our hometown newspaper about just about everything and anything related to field hockey.  And, my trip today to take a few photos of the place where they trained really has me psyched for the team.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - if you have been following the team at the Olympics, you know they are undefeated and will play tonight to qualify for the quarter-finals if they win.  Go USA!

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