On July 9th, 2020, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced that the FIH Pro League will finally resume play beginning on September 22nd with Germany hosting Belgium.
While the global league is rising, one could also note the disastrous fall of the USA collegiate athletic system. Many conferences including the Ivy League Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and others have either cancelled or postponed their fall sports seasons. More are expected to postpone or cancel their fall sports as well, and some have only indicated Conference-Only games. Changes are happening by the hour, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, athletes are waiting at home through summer internships, online classes, and training at home with individual programs, biding their time until they can play again (…and go back to class).
For Stanford University in California, their problems go a step further. Players and staff found out this week in a Zoom call that 11 sports, including their field hockey program will not be continued past the 2020-2021 season due to financial restrictions. While scholarships will still be honored, the athletes will now have to choose to remain at the university and end their competitive field hockey careers, or transfer to a new university amidst COVID-19 to continue playing while getting a degree. For former Stanford field hockey athlete, and Canadian National Team Player Maddie Secco: “My first thought was of course I was devastated for everyone involved. The coaching staff I played under is still spearheading that program. They’ve been around for 10 years and it’s sad to see how much work and effort they’ve put into that, and to have their legacy taken away in that sense was very devastating. And then knowing how incredible the experience was for me, I’m so grateful I got to do it when I did, but also thinking about the next generation of athletes, or the ones that are halfway through the program, to have that big part of their life taken away is really sad.”
In the USA Collegiate system, athletes are allowed four years of eligibility to play, which typically coincides with a four-year educational undergraduate degree. With the cancellation of seasons, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will have their work cut out for them determining what to do about graduating seniors, who have no schooling left, but remain eligible from a cancelled season. One thing is for certain – these are unprecedented times, and we hope universities and governing bodies will have a logical solution keeping in mind the health & safety of everyone involved.
In the meantime, we will relish in the fact that HOCKEY IS BACK, and competition may be resuming globally. From FIH President, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra: “All hockey fans have been eagerly waiting for the day where the world’s best teams would play again. Whilst the pandemic is not over and staying healthy while playing hockey is an absolute priority, it’s a sign of hope that the resumption of the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League is looming. I wish all teams well and invite all fans to enjoy ‘Hockey at its Best’ in the months ahead!”
Will upcoming national competitions live up to the “Hockey at its Best” slogan based on quarantine training and reflection? Only time will tell.
Photos reposted by Stanford athletes and university field hockey images, information last updated 7/14/2020