Nelson-Nichols Named New Director of Masters High Performance

by USA Field Hockey

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Field Hockey is proud to announce Caroline Nelson-Nichols as the new Director of Masters High Performance, which includes overseeing and managing men’s and women’s athletes 35 years of age and over.


The Director of Masters High Performance (MHP) is a contractor role responsible for overseeing and directing all aspects of the USA Field Hockey’s Masters High Performance Programs. The role provides leadership, continuity and oversight to the U.S. Masters National Training Squad/Team programs, staff and volunteers.


“I am delighted that Caroline has been appointed as Director of Masters High Performance,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey’s Executive Director. “She has represented and coached Team USA at every level. She will bring great leadership to our Masters’ community and help our teams achieve international success.”


Nelson-Nichols, a two-time Olympian, is no stranger to USA Field Hockey and its programming having served in several roles over the past decade. She was the U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach in 2020, and helped navigate the squad through one of our nation’s most arguably challenging times. She pivoted from coaching her first international match in January 2020, to creating virtual training and team building opportunities through the first six months of the pandemic. Prior to coaching the USWNT, Nelson-Nichols was involved with the Olympic Development Pathway. She served on USA Field Hockey’s Board of Directors as an Athlete Representative in 2019, stepping down to fulfill her USWNT duties. She also worked within Futures, now Nexus, in multiple roles since 2008, including head coach during the National Futures Championships (2016-18) and regional coaching director (2009-12). She is a certified USA Field Hockey Coach Educator and co-leads USA Field Hockey Level 3 accreditation. 


No stranger to collegiate hockey, Nelson-Nichols served as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s University in 2021. Prior to taking the reins of the USWNT, she spent five seasons as the head coach at Columbia University. Before becoming the head coach, she was an assistant with the Lions for three seasons and spent a season on the staff at the University of Iowa.


Nelson-Nichols earned her Master’s Degree in Applied Physiology (Exercise application) from the Teachers College, Columbia University in 2018. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Secondary Education from Old Dominion University. She currently lives in Virgina Beach, Va. and is founder and owner of CN19 Field Hockey, a company devoted to developing better players and coaches.


"It is an absolute honor to take on the role of Director of Masters High Performance," said Nelson-Nichols. "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a passionate group of athletes and professionals. Together, we will strive for excellence, setting new benchmarks in Masters field hockey and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations."

Nelson-Nichols was a defender on the USWNT from 2007-14 and competed in a total of 165 international caps. She was pivotal on the USA backline and was part of the squad that made impressive runs at the 2011 Pan American Games and 2014 Champions Challenge, where they claimed gold, as well as the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup, where they earned fourth place. She was also a member of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and London 2012 Olympic Games teams. 

She had an outstanding collegiate career at Old Dominion University from 2003-06, where she was a three-time academic All-American (2004-06). In 2006, she was named NFHCA first team All-American and was named the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year, the first time in conference history an athlete earned both honors in the same season. In 2017, she was inducted into the Old Dominion University Hall of Fame. 


Masters Hockey is competitive field hockey for adults, ages 35 and older (O-35), and has grown significantly in the past decade both domestically and globally. In the United States, this growth was a direct result of a committed group of volunteers who came together to participate in the training, selection and competitions for indoor and outdoor field hockey.


In 2019, World Masters Hockey (WMH) became formally recognized by the FIH as the exclusive Masters Hockey organization. WMH has the sole responsibility for organizing and managing official Masters Hockey tournaments globally, and is an evolution of the former International Masters Hockey (IMHA) and World Grand Masters (WGMA) Associations. The organization was created following a request from the FIH for the existing IMHA and WGMA to unify into a single Masters Hockey entity. This unification enhances the hockey brand strategically and commercially and simplifies the passage through the three natural stages of progression from Juniors, Seniors and Masters. As a result of the growth, WMH established policies requiring National Associations to provide oversight of Masters Hockey programming.


USA Field Hockey embraces this responsibility and aligns it with the overall mission to Grow the Game, Serve and Inspire Membership and Succeed Internationally. USA Field Hockey believes field hockey is a sport for all, a sport for life, and looks to better support Masters, fuel continued growth and optimize the Masters experience and success by hiring a Director of Masters High Performance to manage high performance, selection and training, roles that were previously managed by volunteers.


“This is an absolute game changer for Masters field hockey in the United States!” said Pam Stuper, USA Field Hockey Foundation Executive Director and Masters Transition Team Chair. “We are thrilled, honored and humbled to have someone with Caroline’s background and experience lead our Masters community and teams to podium finishes in future Masters World Cups.”