Texas State Chapter Inaugural High School All Star Game Marks First Milestones for Field Hockey
The Texas State Chapter of USA Field Hockey hosted their first ever High School All Star Games in Austin, Texas on December 2, 2023, as part of their end of season event. The event honoring select Texas high school athletes was hosted at Phipps Field, the water-based hockey pitch at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas. This event honored select high players from across Texas and showcased the new format of Hockey5s, introducing it to Texas high school players.
The Texas State Chapter, organized in 2022 to foster the growth of field hockey in the state, had several noteworthy firsts characterized within this event:
- The All Star Game marked the first event hosted by the Texas State Chapter.
- The event was the first game honoring Texas High School athletes nominated by their coaches as ‘All Stars’ of their high school teams. The tournament was a showcase of skill and a celebration of student-athlete excellence.
- The celebration was made more special by the athletes participating in the first ever high school Hockey5s event, the newest format for the game.
The Texas State Chapter event to honor Texas high school All Star players marked a significant moment for the student-athletes. This event also was also the first time high school athletes participated in Hockey5s as their marquee event. This new format is just catching fire around the world, and these Texas athletes played on the cutting edge of our sport.
A faster game on a smaller field than the 11-a-side played in high schools, Hockey5s is played with five players per side, and the ball does not leave the pitch across the end lines or the side lines. USA Field Hockey has already sent teams to compete in this new format internationally, and it is a growing format with World Cup competition coming up in January in Oman.
The athletes who competed in this event were as excited as the coaches to play the new format of Hockey5s. The players remarked at the demand for speed and enhanced skills to compete in the new game format, which added to the fun for these high achievers. For the players, the experience went beyond the game itself. The athletes consistently remarked on the amount fun that was had.
The event was meant to celebrate these young women, their athletic excellence, and the work they put into their sport and respective high school teams. The reported theme, however, was the joy of playing alongside fellow dedicated field hockey athletes from across the state – some of whom traveled over three hours to attend. All the athletes reported maximum fun, playing with former opponents and sharing a new camaraderie over their shared passion for their sport.
OFFICIALS WERE WELL PREPARED TO INAUGURATE HOCKEY5S IN TEXAS
As a new format, Hockey5s represented a challenge for the officials to call. Prior to his officiating in Austin, umpire Ian Chappell invested time with USA Field Hockey’s Director of Umpiring Sean Rapaport to learn how to officiate a Hockey5s event. Rapaport encouraged Chappell to feel comfortable officiating the games as he was in good company. A recent international competition for Hockey5s also saw multiple umpires officiating their first ever Hockey5s event! All reports are that Chappell did an excellent job, kicking off the event by providing the official introduction to the format. Both Chappell and volunteer coach Sam Winslett embraced the new format and encouraged athletes enthusiastically along the way. The Texas State Chapter sees great opportunity for future Hockey5s events within Texas.
The three competing exhibition teams played fast games with a 2-minute substitution rotation, keeping everyone in the action. The event concluded with a presentation to the athletes of mementos and certificates honoring their athletic achievement, being nominated by their high school coaches to attend this high school All Star event.The Texas State Chapter Board was especially thankful for the support of St. Stephen's Episcopal Associate Director and Field Hockey Program Head Chelsea Richards. Richards directly supported the State Chapter event organization and execution. The Texas State Chapter Board is also grateful to all the high school coaches, the dedicated athletes and their families, and club coaches for helping grow the game we all love.