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News for 07 August 2020

All the news for Friday 7 August 2020

Ex-coach Oltmans' parting words show real feeling

By Jugjet Singh

Roelant Oltmans.

EVEN before his abrupt resignation letter became cold, Roelant Oltmans hit another nerve with Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) officials and coaches.

His parting words before boarding a flight to Netherlands were: Malaysia will not win gold at the 2022 Asian Games, and Malaysia can forget about qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

That target now belongs to new chief coach Arul Selvaraj, who is expected to arrive from Dublin, Ireland, by the middle of this month.

Oltmans' retort hit a nerve with MHC, and an official revealed it was the players who did not want him, and they are now celebrating his departure.

"We will hand over a report, compiled during our fact-finding interviews of players and coaches in January, to the Sports Minister and then reveal it to the public in two to three weeks' time.

"Suffice to say, the report will be self explanatory on why we failed to qualify for the Olympics under Oltmalaysia'ans," said the official.

The gist of the report will state that the players were unhappy with Oltmans' coaching methods, as he practised "divide and rule" which placed a barrier between the seniors and juniors.

His style brought disunity, and divided the players, causing the national team to be dysfunctional as a unit.

Malaysia failed to beat Canada at the FIH Series Finals in May last year in Kuala Lumpur, losing 3-2 when two penalty strokes were wasted.

That defeat saw Malaysia play Britain instead of Ireland in the Olympics Qualifier, and the national team were hammered 9-3 on aggregate.

The fact-finding report also revealed that all the players did not want Oltmans to continue as coach, and they wished for South African Paul Revington instead.

MHC have dealt with the issue, releasing Oltmans before his end of the year contract, and brought in the team of Arul Selvaraj and Revington.

"Oltmans was overprotective of the juniors in the squad and regarded the seniors as bullies when they scolded the youngsters to improve their game.

"This caused the team to split into two as the seniors refused to guide the juniors after being labelled as bullies.

"The way they played in the Britain qualifier indicated a dispirited and disillusioned team," said the official.

Malaysia were leading Britain 1-0 by the sixth minute, and went into the dressing room with a slim lead and did not receive any guidance from Oltmans.

"We took the lead, and during half time we waited for the coach to outline the second half strategy, but his answer shocked us. Oltmans told us to just keep playing the same way, and did not elaborate on our next strategy.

"Needless to say Britain scored four goals," said a player.

There are many more revelations in the report, which will show what happened in the 22 months under Oltmans, who behaved as if he was always sure of delivering a Tokyo Olympics ticket.

But his parting words revealed his actual feelings.

New Straits Times

India's current backline can challenge the world's best hockey teams, says former India player VR Raghunath

VR Raghunath is of the view that the Indian team should make a fresh start in its Olympic preparations following a forced break due to the pandemic.

File image of the Indian hockey team. Twitter @TheHockeyIndia

Bengaluru: Former hockey player VR Raghunath believes that the current Indian team boasts of a world-class defensive line-up and with quality drag-flickers in the ranks, the side can challenge the world's best during next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Raghunath, who was a lethal flicker in his playing days, said having four penalty corner specialists in the current set-up augurs well for the eight-time champions in the run up to the Tokyo Olympics, postponed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They are very experienced and the current set of defenders have about 50-80 caps together. They know each other very well and I don't see them having any problems even when they are put in a tough match-situation against any top team in the world," said Raghunath.

"Having two top dragflickers who can play full match is an advantage for India. Both Harmanpreet (Singh) and Rupinder (Pal Singh) are equally good and they have completely different execution and qualities. Having various options and combinations in drag flick is always good.

"Plus, India has good options in Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas who can be great support when one of the two top flickers are having a rough day," he added.

The 31-year-old former defender is of the view that the Indian team should make a fresh start in its Olympic preparations following a forced break due to the pandemic.

"I think the team must take this period as a one year countdown, and forget everything that's happened in the last 6-8 months. It is time to start afresh," he said.

"The six-week break was ideal for the players to return to the national camp feeling fresh. The Indian team's fitness is top class and they will continue to build on this plus point the next one year but having the right mindset in their approach and staying mentally positive will be very important."

Raghunath emphasised on the need for players to be mentally strong in these trying times.

"How the players cope mentally in this new scenario, how they approach every day mentally and once they start training and playing matches, how they will cope with the pressure and the results will matter a lot," he said.

"Usually in the lead up to the Olympics, the last 6-8 months pass by really fast and the team must be absolutely prepared physically and mentally."


Hockeyroo Gabi Nance calls it a day

Hockeyroo Gabi Nance has announced her retirement from international hockey, sighting the desire to remain in her home town of Kingscliff, and a serious wrist injury as the significant factors towards her decision.

Nance ends her Hockeyroos career with 75 appearances and eight goals after making her debut in November 2014 against New Zealand. She also represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Nance went home to Kingscliff when the Hockey Australia High Performance unit in Perth closed down due to COVID in late March.

This followed wrist surgery after an injury she suffered during the FIH Pro League matches in Sydney back in late January.

The recovery period would have kept her off the field for 9-12 months, effectively curtailing her Tokyo Olympic dreams.

But the 26 year old is upbeat, the past months at home giving her clarity and peace of mind that her decision and the timing of it is the right one.

“I am grateful having this opportunity to be able to come to this decision wholeheartedly in a really good head space excited for the future,” said Nance.

“I’m sad to be leaving the girls and the whole international hockey community, but I kept coming to the same conclusion with my decision, so I am excited about making it now and for what lies ahead.”

“My family, partner and friends are in Kingscliff, and it is something I am not willing to sacrifice anymore, so I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life in a place I have always loved and wanted to return to.”

Gabi Nance in action at the Rio Olympics.

Nance’s hockey journey is one of determination and rediscovery, having taken time away and also spending a period playing in the Netherlands which reignited her passion for the game.

After the Rio Olympics, an injury setback in April 2017 ruled Nance out for close to the rest of the year before returning in a home series against Japan.

Competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Nance took her hiatus and then forced her way back into the Hockeyroos squad for 2020 after impressing in the Sultana Bran Hockey One League.

Reflecting on her Hockeyroos career, Nance admits her return to the squad this year as among her fondest times in the national program, while she also praised the impact the South Australian Sports Institute and state’s hockey program had on her cracking into Australia’s national women’s hockey team.

“I definitely had ups and downs due to injury but every athlete does so I’m no different to anyone else in that respect,” said Nance.

“I have come in and out of the Hockeyroos program and I would have to say this last stint, from being selected in the squad at the end of last year and then the period this year would have to be the highlight of my career. Seeing the transformation within not only the group I was playing with, but Hockey Australia and the movement the sport is making is really exciting.”

“There is obviously going to the Olympics and winning silver at the Commonwealth Games, but I think the highlight has been being around this group of girls.

“I want to thank Hockey Australia for giving me the opportunity to not only perform at the highest level, but the endless opportunities to grow into a better person each day.”

Hockeyroos Head Coach Paul Gaudoin lauded Nance’s contribution to the Hockeyroos, both as a player and a person.

“Gabi has been a valuable member of the Hockeyroos for a number of years now,” said Gaudoin.

“A fast, fit and skilful midfielder and striker, she reads the game really well, and whilst it is disappointing to lose a player of her calibre, we support her decision and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

“Gabi Nance will always be a Hockeyroo and we are grateful for what she has done for our national team.”

Hockey Australia High Performance Director Toni Cumpston echoed Gaudoin’s sentiments.

“On behalf of Hockey Australia, I would like to say thanks, and congratulations to Gabi on her international career as a Hockeyroo,” said Cumpston.

“She should be very proud of what she has achieved in our sport both nationally and internationally. We have enjoyed being on this journey with her and we wish her all the very best for the future in all her endeavours.”

Nance was the 471st player capped for the Hockeyroos.

Hockey Australia media release

Crista Cullen: Rio 2016 Olympic champion targets gold standard conservation with Tofauti Foundation

Photo credit: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

As we continue our series of feature stories marking the original event dates of Tokyo 2020, we speak to Great Britain’s Olympic gold medal-winning defender Crista Cullen, a player who made a remarkable comeback to international hockey for what proved to be a glorious Rio 2016 competition after hanging up her stick following bronze at London 2012.

Cullen – who won 197 caps for England and Great Britain, competing in three Olympic Games – looks back on her memories of Rio 2016 and provides insight into the incredible conservation work of the Tofauti Foundation, the project she has set up in the country where she grew up and very much regards as home, Kenya. 

It has been four years since Great Britain’s women shocked the world by winning the Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016. How do you feel about it now, looking back on that wonderful time?

Crista Cullen: “I think it is still somewhat surreal. I cannot believe it is four years ago. It feels like yesterday, and yet it doesn’t feel like it happened at all, all at once. I think most of my team-mates will say the same thing. It was a shock for a lot of people, but I think we were pretty sure what we were after at the Olympics, and we weren’t willing to leave the field until such a time that we got what we had worked so hard for. It is a very proud moment still, but as I say, a little bit surreal.”

What were your favourite moments in Rio, and which result on the way to the gold medal made you think “we really can win this”?

Crista Cullen: “My favourite moment, of course, was standing on the top of the podium, a position that we had only hoped, wished and dreamed that we would get to. That moment of overwhelming feeling, as I’ve just explained, the surreal nature of it, because it had been such a long time to try to get there, for a few of us. Myself, Kate Richardson-Walsh, and Helen Richardson-Walsh, we’d all been in the campaign pre-Athens [2004 Olympic Games], coming from failure [to qualify for Athens]. It had been a long old journey, so that was very special. I think the moment when I thought we could genuinely ‘do this’ was against Australia, which is quite ironic, because it was our opening game. We knew that we were playing the world number two, and I always say that tournament sport is how you start, and we gathered momentum from there, winning eight matches in 13 days, the rest speaks for itself.”

Your own journey to Rio was quite unusual, having enjoyed a fine career before stepping away from the game for some considerable time after winning bronze at London 2012. Tell us about your remarkable comeback.

Crista Cullen: “As you rightfully said, I hung up my boots in 2012, as I thought that would be the best Olympics I would ever go to. A home Olympics as a Great Britain athlete, 15,000 people shouting for you every time you step out onto the field is a pretty unique experience as a hockey player. I thought it was the best it was ever going to get, so I returned home. The pull for me was too much, to come back to Kenya and pursue my passion in conservation as well as work in the family business in security. Then, one fateful day in April [2015], Great Britain head coach Danny Kerry, who had coached me both in Beijing [2008] and London [2012], phoned me and asked if I’d consider returning. I have to say, my decision was quite a difficult one. It took me six months to really make the right decision, within which time the girls had to qualify for the [Rio 2016] Olympics. So, I committed in October 2015, and had a ten-month run-in to Rio to get myself into the squad of 31, firstly, and then get myself into the 16 that were named for Rio. So, it was a good old battle with ten months to go, but it thankfully worked out.”

How has your life changed since winning Olympic gold, and what are your memories of the immediate aftermath of that success, knowing how much it meant to the nine million people who watched it on TV in the UK?

Crista Cullen: “Thankfully, we didn’t know that there were nine million people watching our Olympic final! But, at the same time, the aftermath was initially celebratory; massive, massive celebrations. It was lovely that Great Britain Hockey had gathered all of our families and friends that had travelled over Rio to support us - we all collectively congregated and enjoyed the celebrations massively. Ironically, it was my birthday at midnight that night [after the final win against the Netherlands], so there is not much memory of what happened after that! Then of course, what was so important to all of us was that, in some ways, winning gold really does put hockey on the map. A massive increase in the participation of our sport, with young children – boys and girls. We needed to nurture and encourage children to continue to play a sport that we have enjoyed for so long. You allude to nine million people [who watched], but it was then about how many more people we could affect after that. As hockey, I think it is really important that we nurture that interest for as long as we can, and hopefully we’ve been able to capture one or two youngsters who wouldn’t have always taken up our sport.”

Not including your own incredible gold medal success, what is your favourite Olympic moment of all time from the other sports, and who is your favourite Olympian and why?

Crista Cullen: “I’ve sort of got two people who stick out to me, ironically both from the Winter Olympics. [Great Britain skeleton racer] Lizzy Yarnold came up to me some time back and actually said to me that her decision to return to the sport was because she had seen mine, and that I had done it in a short period of time. Then she went out there and nailed it, winning an Olympic gold medal. I find that inspiring, that maybe mine helped somebody else. The people that really inspire me are ‘post-success’. There is a guy called Johann Koss, who won four Olympic gold medals in speedskating for Norway, but then he went on to set up something called Right To Play, which gives opportunities to children who don’t normally get them, in war-torn areas notoriously in Africa and Asia and other places. He, through his success, has been able to touch the lives of numerous children, giving them an opportunity to enjoy sport and learn through the education of sport. So, people that have a message. It is one thing getting success and being lucky enough to be one of those people that are successful, but it is very much another to leverage that opportunity, have a voice and go out there and make a difference. Those are the people who massively inspire me.”

You are heavily involved in conservation, particularly in Africa. Can you tell us more about the work of your Tofauti Foundation, and its importance to you personally?

Crista Cullen: “Well, I think that question knits in quite nicely with the question before. You are given an opportunity when the audience starts listening to you because you have been successful in one field, and I find that very humbling. So, exactly what Johann did and a number of others have done, Linford Christie etc, setting up various initiatives in what they are passionate about. I leveraged my other passion, which has been conservation. I set up the Tofauti Foundation, which tries to help wildlife and communities in Africa, with a whole host of different initiatives that will leave a lasting legacy and make a genuine difference. That is what [the word] Tofauti means, it means difference, in my native tongue of Swahili.  My big passion is about leaving a legacy, trying to help people, and wildlife, who are less fortunate than ourselves and, of course, I’m in those situations – being an African, being a Kenyan – regularly, and I love having the opportunity to be able to give back. If anybody is interested in conservation at all, I’d love the opportunity to speak to you and to work with you, whatever it may be. With Tofauti, I’m learning as I go – I don’t believe I know everything, but I believe in collaboration and working together. Whatever your passion is about, whether it is conservation, whether it is humanitarian, they all have a similar moral compass to make an impact, and that is what I am trying to do with Tofauti.”

To learn more about Crista Cullen’s wonderful Tofauti conservation project, please visit https://www.tofauti.org.

For more information about the Right To Play initiative set up by Johann Koss, please visit https://righttoplay.com/.


Olympic hockey through the ages

A look back at over 100 years of hockey at the Olympic Games 

London 2012: The glorious Games of London saw sell-out crowds pack into the Riverbank Arena on a daily basis, and the fans were treated to some incredible moments. The Netherlands women defeated Argentina 2-0 in the gold medal match to successfully defend their Olympic title, with Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel and Maartje Paumen scoring the goals. That said, they were given a huge scare in the semi-finals, with New Zealand twice taking the lead only for the brilliant Paumen to drag her team level. That match finished 2-2, with the Dutch winning 3-1 on strokes – the rest, as they say, is history. Like the Dutch women, Germany men also mounted a successful defence of their Olympic title, defeating European rivals the Netherlands 2-1 in the gold medal match thanks to a double from Jan-Phillip Rabente. 

Tomorrow: Rio 2016


On this day – 6 August 2016: As referred to by Crista Cullen in the above interview, Great Britain’s women made a stellar start to what would prove to be a glorious campaign at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with Lily Owsley and Alex Danson scoring the goals in a 2-1 Pool B victory over Australia. After winning their pool with five wins from five matches, GB would go on to beat Spain (quarter-final) and New Zealand (semi-final) before getting the better of the Netherlands in a dramatic shoot-out, snatching the gold medal after regular time finished locked at 3-3.

To find out more about purchasing tickets for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, please click here.

FIH site

Giselle Ansley: "I don’t think I’ve ever cried like that after a game"

Ellie Rayer v Netherlands  HWC2018

Facing the Dutch is an exciting prospect at the best of times but when it’s a quarter-final of a home World Cup, it’s possibly the most thrilling tie you can expect to be part of.

That’s exactly what England had to look forward to at the 2018 Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup as they came up against the reigning champions in the last eight.

Alyson Annan’s team had been in imperious form in the group stages – scoring an incredible 26 goals in just three matches – but England knew that meant nothing. This was knockout hockey; anything could happen.

Looking back at the previous clashes between the two only sought to intensify the thrilling nature of the game. England famously beat the Dutch in a shootout to win the 2015 European gold medal and had won by the same method to reach the final of the same competition two years earlier.

They’d also come back from two goals down to draw a thrilling Investec International at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre the year before before only a late Marloes Keetels goal saw the Dutch win their EuroHockey Championships semi-final two months later.

As Giselle Ansley and Ellie Rayer explained in the latest episode of #InsideTheCircle: The Podcast, they went into the fixture knowing they could make it to the semi-finals.

“We had genuinely belief we could beat them in that moment,” Olympic gold medallist Ansley explained.

“We had a good record against them over the last couple of years, although we’d lost the 2017 European final to them. But we still had the belief because we performed really, really well in that game.

“If you want to win you’ve got to play and beat everyone and at the time it was another team to just go out and play against.”

Rayer added: “These are the moments we train for. We know it’s not always going to be easy but the grit and the belief and the fighting spirit is something that we showed in abundance.

“Yeah we’d made it a bit harder for ourselves but we thought that there was no stopping us. We wanted to go out and give our all.”

Despite a huge effort, things didn’t go England’s way on this occasion as The Netherlands emerged 2-0 victors.

That meant England were knocked out of their home World Cup and were unable to achieve a medal. The players were devastated.

Ansley said: “I was absolutely gutted. I don’t normally show very much emotion after games on the pitch but I just couldn’t not. I don’t think I’ve ever cried like that after a game.

“Danny [Kerry] had never seen that from me either. I remember him coming over to me, giving me a hug and saying ‘it’s ok’. That just had never happened before.”

Rayer added: “We’d been on such a rollercoaster and it was such an incredible home event put on. We were gutted and we were gutted for everyone around us as well.

“There was so much support behind us, so many people had given so much for us and it was almost a feeling of that we’d let them down.

“Obviously that’s not how we wanted it to end but because of how big it was it felt as though we’d let down more than just ourselves, it was the 10,000 people in the crowd and every single person behind the scenes that had supported. We were just sorry.”

Subscribe to Inside The Circle: The Podcast to hear this episode in full and catch up on any others that you may have missed:

Great Britain Hockey media release

Dawson Finds Coaching to Her Liking

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - August 5, 2020 -  Play field hockey, travel the world. When Rachel Dawson picked up the sport as a girl, that wasn’t necessarily her plan, but the list of places in which she’s represented the United States is an impressive one.

As a Olympian, Dawson competed in Beijing (2008), London (2012), and Rio de Janeiro (2016), and she’s also played in such countries as Russia, Bermuda, Mexico, Canada, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Her coaching résumé isn’t as lengthy. Dawson didn’t retire as a player until October 2016, and she didn’t enter the next phase of her field hockey career until the next summer, when she joined head coach Michele Madison’s staff at the University of Virginia. But she’s rising quickly in the profession.

In January, Dawson was named head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Development Team, for which she’d spent the previous year as an assistant. In the USA Field Hockey system, that’s the squad between the Under-21 national team and the senior national team. Its 2020 schedule included an April tour of Scotland, and Dawson was eager to see the United Kingdom again.

To prepare for the tour, the team, whose players include former UVA standouts Carrera Lucas and Erin Shanahan, held a training camp in Northern California in February. Dawson’s team scrimmaged Cal-Berkeley and the San Francisco-based Olympic Club, “just to get some games in,” she said.

Before the team could leave for Scotland, however, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the trip. With no U.S. team to coach and no spring season for the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Dawson spent some time in her native New Jersey with her mother. She also gained a following on Instagram, where she would post videos of her workouts.

“I kind of did it spontaneously,” Dawson said, laughing. “If you know anything about me when it comes to sports, my background is in going out in the backyard and just making things up. I love creating. I came from a really big family, and we would just go in the backyard and play games.

“So when COVID happened, I was kind of bored, and I said, ‘OK, I love field hockey. What could I create given all of these restrictions and conditions?’ So I just started making things up [and posting them on Instagram], and I had a couple people say, ‘Hey, I love your videos, I’ve been doing them.’

“I kept posting them and they were fun and people gave feedback that they helped them and sparked their own ideas, and I think that’s what I really wanted to do: help people to realize that even with the constraints we were in, that there were ways to create and train and have fun. And that was really cool, because I think sometimes our sport environments are so scripted and structured that free play is fun.”

Dawson, who has eight siblings, comes from one of the first families of U.S. field hockey, and she had an extraordinary career as a midfielder at the University of North Carolina. As a fifth-year senior in 2007, Madison’s second season at UVA, Dawson led North Carolina to the NCAA title and received the Honda Award as the nation’s top player.

She joined the U.S. national team in 2005 and went on earn 298 international caps. Dawson spent the 2010 season as an assistant at Princeton, but she never expected to make coaching her profession.

“I was like, ‘I do not want to do that. Heck no. That’s not for me,’ ” Dawson recalled.

After retiring as a player in 2016, she started a business, Praxis, which focuses on the development and wellness of athletes.

“During my sports career I felt like I was exposed to so many different resources,” said Dawson, a gifted and thoughtful writer who posts on praxisathlete.com, “but I started to see that sometimes we celebrate the performer so much that the person behind the performer gets lost.”

Dawson said she wanted to help “provide resources for individuals during that time in their careers, in a space where they can really explore who they are in sport and not just what performance they leave on the field. So I took a year away from hockey, just to find myself and figure out what I wanted to do, and I missed it. A lot. I just missed being on a team, being on the field, being in the intimacy of the work that I think sport requires. You can’t hide from yourself. You can’t hide from all the feelings and emotions and challenges sport brings. You have to face it head-on, and every day the challenge is different.”

When an assistant’s position opened at UVA in 2017, UNC head coach Karen Shelton mentioned to Madison that Dawson might be a good candidate. Madison knew Dawson, having coached her on the U-21 national team. “I asked her if she’d consider giving it a shot,” Madison said. “We agreed on the mind-body-spirit development of an athlete, and I sold her on Charlottesville, and I knew her competitive fire would help the team.”

In 2019, Virginia advanced to the NCAA tournament’s final four for the first time in nine years. One of the program’s strengths is its stable staff. Dawson’s fellow assistant coach, Ole Keusgen, is heading into his sixth season at UVA, and he’s head coach of the United States’ U-19 women’s national team.

The Cavaliers’ coaches, Dawson said, “each bring divergent experiences and perspectives. You have Ole, who’s coming from Germany and the international game, and the Germans play a certain style. You have Michele, who was a goalkeeper as a player and then has this wealth of experience as a coach in tons of different programs. And then you have me who’s coming from this really intense and very recent playing background. So I think what’s really cool is we all kind of bring a different perspective to different things, and then we sort of integrate each perspective and find the solution that works in the moment for our team.”

Madison, who’s also been head coach at Temple and Michigan State, encourages her assistants to be active with USA Field Hockey. She received similar support from her mentors as a young coach.

“The growth I experienced at that level, it just opens your mind to [different approaches],” said Madison, who served on the U.S. staff at the 1988 and 1996 Olympics.

Dawson said Madison “sees that Ole and I have a real passion for the game, and the curiosity and ability to lead, so she encourages it and supports it and offers perspective on what she’s seen in her experience with the U.S. programs and her experiences at UVA.”

Madison said: “My job is to prepare them to be head [college] coaches. I think both of them can be, if that’s what they want.”

Eventually, Dawson said, “I could see myself in a head coaching role. Am I looking to do that right now at this exact moment? No. I’m a big believer in when the opportunity presents, just be ready for it, and so far nothing has captivated me that much. I’m happy, I’m learning and growing and exploring. But I’m open to whatever possibilities exist.”

She’s come a long way from her first Olympic experience.

“In Beijing, you’re wide-eyed, bushy-tailed,” Dawson said. “You have no idea what you’re getting into. You’re just happy to be there. It was the first time the U.S. had qualified outright in 20 years. We played in Atlanta [in 1996], but we got the automatic bid that year. So 2008 was amazing. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and we did all right.”

The U.S. placed eighth in Beijing. Four years later, in London, where Dawson’s teammates included UVA stars Paige Selenski and Michelle Vittese, the U.S. finished 12th.

“So that was a real bittersweet Olympics, I would say, in that we knew we could have done better, but there were some cultural issues and maturity issues we needed to sort through as a team,” Dawson said.

In 2013, Craig Parnham took over as the U.S. head coach, “and he just re-galvanized the program,” Dawson said. “It was the most intense experience of my life. The things that we were doing in training were insane, and we went to Rio and had a great pool-play experience. Our team chemistry was amazing.”

Her teammates at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil included Vittese. (Selenski was an alternate). The U.S. lost to Germany in the quarterfinals, “so that was really disappointing, but it was an amazing experience,” Dawson said.

She looks forward to more international competitions. For now, though, her focus is on UVA. After four-plus months away from Grounds, the Cavaliers’ players are back in town, going through voluntary works the coaching staff is not allowed to monitor.

“So it’s like torture,” Dawson said, laughing. “It’s such a tease. They’re back, but we can’t work with them.

The wait is almost over. Practices are scheduled to begin next week. In the meantime, the coaching staff is planning practices “and trying to find creative ways to recruit, considering the current circumstances,” Dawson said.

With the pandemic ongoing, many questions remain about how the season will unfold. Still, Dawson said, the “one thing I can say is it’s been joyful to have the team back together. There’s a certain simplicity in it. I was a little skeptical before we were coming back, but actually seeing the value of being together and in this space, whatever happens, I think it’s been a very valuable step in the right direction.”

Content Courtesy of Virginia Athletics

USFHA media release

Jecko Joins Duke Field Hockey Staff

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke field hockey head coach Pam Bustin is excited for a new addition to her coaching staff, announcing Jess Jecko as the volunteer assistant coach for the 2020-21 year.

"We are thrilled to welcome Jess to the Duke True staff and FHamily," said Bustin. "Jess brings a wealth of experience and training knowledge to Duke True. She is familiar with the ACC having played at Syracuse and currently represents our country at the international level. In addition to her impressive playing and coaching resume, her belief in team values and incredible love for the sport made this match a no-brainer! Our staff looks forward to getting on the field with Jess and working with the 2020 Duke True Squad!"

Jecko returns to the ACC following her collegiate career at Syracuse in which she played from 2012-15. Since graduation in 2016, she's been a member of the USA Women's National Team and has competed in the Field Hockey Pro League the past two seasons.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to develop as a coach, learn from one of the top coaching staffs in the country and contribute to an already exceptional program," Jecko said.

During her career at Syracuse, Jecko played in 68 games in which she tallied 217 saves and accumulated a goals against average of 1.31. As a senior, she helped her team win the ACC regular season and 2015 NCAA National Championship where she was named to the All-Tournament Team. In her junior season, the Orange were the NCAA Runner-Ups and were named Big East champions during her freshman campaign.

Over the years, Jecko has coached at various places along with working numerous camps. She began coaching in 2013, working as an assistant coach with USA Field Hockey Futures until 2019. Following her graduation, Jecko stayed at her alma mater to serve as the volunteer assistant coach for the 2016-17 year. Jecko has also been a goalkeeper coach for the WC Eagles, Spooky Nook, Old Alex Colts and Irish Juniors National Team. She was most recently the volunteer assistant at Washington College and held virtual sessions with Windy City.

Jecko graduated from Syracuse in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in child and family studies. While a student-athlete, Jecko was named to the Dean's List and ACC Honor Roll while representing her team for three years on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Content Courtesy of Duke Athletics

USFHA media release

Umpire’s voice in danger of losing out to player-centric hockey

Hockey is in danger of having an overly player-centric sport, writes our umpire columnist Andy Mair

I was fortunate enough to be working with the umpires at the Premier Division indoors this season. One of the main things to come out of the matches on the first weekend (apart from the inevitable ‘drilling’ education) was the noise level of the play.

It appears to have become the ‘norm’ for players to give a constant commentary on the match, be it to ‘advise’ their teammates, or all too often to make comment to or about the umpire. During my long drive home from matches I often try to get an impression of what I’ve seen, in this case the image that I couldn’t get out of my head was of the ‘Peanuts’ cartoon with the school teacher’s voice being just a noise.

One of the things that players tell me what they like is when the umpire communicates with them. With the current noise levels and constant challenge to decisions, that communication is becoming increasingly difficult. If the whistle cannot be heard because of the play noise level, what chance is there for the umpire’s voice?

At virtually every PC there is comment or full on debate from the defending team, which in many cases can greatly delay the play well beyond the expected time. Of course, we (as umpires) could shepherd the players to get their protective kit on and to stand behind the line, or even give out cards to players that ‘crowd’ us or take too long. But, here’s a radical thought, the players could just get on with sorting all of that themselves.

That may even free up some focus of the umpires that is needlessly being dissipated by managing pointless discussion. You never know, that may even lead to the umpires being able to concentrate more on the play and getting even more decisions correct!

The best players and teams that I have worked with, would look to see what decision had been given, then do their next job – be it backing off five metres to defend the free hit, or to get protective gear on straight away so that they could better plan how to defend a PC. After that task was completed, they could then find a time to ask about the previous umpiring decision, when its importance was diminished by them doing their job well. This could aid in the rapport between us and may even help educate one or both.

Here’s a little bit of education for some. We are still seeing (and hearing) captains challenging umpires, because they feel that is their role and that they are ‘allowed’ to be the voice of their team. This may be a good time to take a look at the rule book: 3.4 Captains are responsible for the behaviour of all players on their team and for ensuring that substitutions of players on their team are carried out correctly. The captain should also be the vehicle for officials to communicate with in regard to their team – not the other way around.

Noise is not exclusive to the players on the pitch, even ‘suspended’ players all too often feel that they are allowed to continue to comment on the match from their sin bin. No! You have forfeited your right to participate in the game in any way, until your suspension has ended.

We are in danger of having an overly player-centric sport (in this country at least), where the athletes believe that they know best and must be listened to. We are also in a situation where we do not have enough umpires to cover all of the matches. Is there a link by any chance?

Does your club have interesting news or features? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

This originally featured in a previous Hockey Paper edition. Don’t miss out. Subscribe in print or in digital format.

The Hockey Paper

PHF-AHF Online Hockey Coaching Workshop

LAHORE - The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) have organised a joint online coaching workshop for the benefit of national coaches.

The useful activity comprehensively covered the important aspect including ‘set-plays penalty conner attacking options against defending structures’, said a PHF spokesman here on Thursday.

Total 30 coaches learned the latest knowledge of modern-day hockey from famous international coaches belonging to game’s ruling body, International Hockey Federation (FIH), he said. Siegfried Aikman (FIH Academy Trainer/FIH senior coach) and Tahir Zaman (FIH Academy Trainer/FIH coach) conducted the course, whose coordinator was Khwaja Juniad (head coach Pakistan hockey).

The coaches, who participated in the course, termed it a beneficial activity aimed at improving their existing knowledge about the game.

The Nation

Former Indian Hockey Coach Michael Nobbs defeats Cancer

Jaspeet Sahni

New Delhi: The series of events this year has made'o far so good' the leading cliche. Uncertainlty prevails and most people perhaps thanked their stars more in the past six months. If that wasn't enough, courtesy the coronavirus pandemic, in Sydney, former India coach Michel Nobbs had another monster riding his back: a stage III lung cancer.

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