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Promoting Inclusion: the Inaugural Season of PA Revolution All Starz Field Hockey

by  Lydia Smeltz, PA Revs All Starz

The ball skipped up the field surrounded by a swarm of athletes before reaching a 20-year-old guy with a nearly open shot right in front of the goal. Before he could get a shot off, a 7-year-old girl swooped in and tapped the ball outside of his touch. Possession was regained and both teams remained focused on the task at hand: working together to score.

 

While these words could describe almost any field hockey game, there were a few key differences that made this game unique. Male and female athletes from age 7 to 24 were on the field together, each accompanied by a high school player “buddy.” This was PA Revolution’s (Revs) All Starz Field Hockey.

 

The club launched their inaugural season of PA Revs All Starz Field Hockey in Spring 2022. All Starz is an adaptive, disability-inclusive field hockey program that seeks to expand the sport’s opportunities for athletes with disabilities. The first season included 24 athletes, 24 high school buddies, six adult coaches, and two physical therapists, who assisted with accommodations and athlete safety.

 

 

The goal was to introduce a new sport to athletes with disabilities in Central Pennsylvania and give high school players the opportunity to share their love of the game. One athlete’s mom shared, “My daughter absolutely loved field hockey. She has never played before because there was nowhere to play. She loves trying new sports and when she got the freedom to hold a field hockey stick and practice with her buddies, she loved every minute of it. She talked about it all week until Friday night practices. I am very thankful to the coaches and buddies for all they did and will do for my daughter.”

 

Both All Starz and high school athletes loved the season. One buddy said, “I was so excited and a bit nervous to do All Starz, but once I met my athlete, we immediately clicked. I looked forward to every time I got to interact with my new friend and I would not trade this experience for anything in the world.”

 

Over four practices, athletes participated in typical field hockey drills – dribbling around cones, passing in a box formation, 1v1s, and their favorite – lots of shooting drills! The season culminated with a full team scrimmage and ended like any other season, plenty of hugs, high fives, and a longing for the next season to not be so far away.

 

 

PA Revs All Starz is so grateful to Long Island Field Hockey for their mentorship and support in starting our program and USA Field Hockey for the equipment donations and generous support. We are beyond excited for our second season this fall. We cannot wait to see how much our athletes have improved over the summer and look forward to sharing field hockey with both new and returning All Starz athletes!

USA Field Hockey promotes field hockey as a sport for all, a sport for life. If you are interested in starting a program of any kind, including disability inclusion, please reach out to Sally Goggin, USA Field Hockey’s National Development Director, sgoggin@usafieldhockey.com

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