Growing Field Hockey In Hawaii
Did you know that men’s field hockey was an Olympic sport and has been since 1904? I didn’t. I also didn’t know that the United States had a women’s field hockey team in the most recent London Olympics. It finished last out of 12 teams.
I had to Google all this information, including the fact that Germany has won the last two gold medals in men’s field hockey, and the Netherlands has won the last two gold medals in women’s field hockey. I was prompted to find out more by Maryknoll School senior Katie Meyer, who is trying to spread the word about the sport here on Oahu.
“I started playing it in the seventh grade, back in Ohio, and I just fell in love with it,” says Meyer, who moved to Oahu this past summer. “It’s really big in Europe and all over the East Coast.”
Field hockey is played with sticks (similar to ice hockey sticks) on a grass field (similar in size to a football field) with 11 players on a side, all trying to get a small, very hard, plastic ball into a tiny net. “It looks hard at first, but it gets easier as you catch on,” Meyer says.
Meyer has played Olympic development-level field hockey since she started high school. Most recently, she played in a tournament this past fall in Florida. She’s been to Nationals twice, having twice won a silver medal in her age group. This past summer, when she learned her family was moving to the Islands, she decided to contact schools in the Honolulu area to see if they were interested in the sport.
“It’s not played in the high schools here,” she says. “I got in contact with an organization called Fundamental Field Hockey. They sent me 25 sticks, plus the balls and cones, and I followed up.” She’s now introduced the sport at Maryknoll grade school, Washington Intermediate and Central Intermediate.
Once a week after school, Meyer loads up her car with the sticks, balls and cones.
“My younger brothers come along with me. They play, too,” she says.
So, it’s Katie, 17, and younger brothers, Peter, 13, twins Tommy and Aodhan, 12, and Luke, 9, who head to the school fields to teach Oahu youngsters a sport they’ve probably only seen on TV or in the movies.
“I want the kids on Oahu to fall in love with it like I did,” she says. “When I start seeing the smiles on their faces after they’ve scored a goal, I know it’s worth it.”
Katie’s dream, she says, is “to give everybody the base and have them build from there. One day, I’d like to see it in the high schools here.” By that time, Katie will be off to college, where she hopes to play the sport at the collegiate level. She’s already aware of others who are playing field hockey around town.
“There’s a group of people who play Thursdays and Saturdays at UH,” she says. “It’s a small community, but there are people here who play the game, and we just need to help spread the word.”
I also learned there will be an international field hockey tournament in Honolulu later this year. The Golden Oldies World Hockey Festival is set for September in Kapiolani Park with teams from all over the globe.
If your school or youth organization is interested, contact Katie Meyer at email@example.com.