All Starz Show Off Skills at Inaugural Indoor Showcase
by Jana Benscoter, Female Athlete News Founder
Field hockey goalies thrive on shutting down shots.
But, when an athlete stops short of trying to score, and says, “hi” instead, it takes the game to another level.
One PA Revolution All Starz athlete did just that at USA Field Hockey’s inaugural All Starz adaptive indoor hockey showcase. The event took place at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, Pennsylvania on March 4.
Three teams, 42 athletes, a dozen volunteer umpires, a handful of coaches, and an enthusiastic crowd helped to turn courts 13 and 14 into a party.
“I’m a part of it because I want field hockey for all,” USA Field Hockey’s Youth Engagement Manager Jenna Ortega said. “I really just have such a passion and love for not just advocating, but supporting, because you never want to speak for those with disabilities. We’re really trying to create pathways for them to play and to take on this wonderful game…when you start working with the adaptive hockey community, disability inclusive hockey, you just can’t get enough of it.”
All Starz Field Hockey is part of USA Field Hockey’s SHINE initiative, which stands for Supporting Hockey Inclusion and New Experiences. It’s “designed to inspire athletes with disabilities to play field hockey,” according to the organization.
Three teams attended the indoor field hockey event: Long Island and Able (New York), and PA Revolution (Pennsylvania).
Alexa Bracco, coach of the Long Island All Starz, said her athletes motivate her. She said she likes to dispel the myth that they can’t achieve playing field hockey. Bracco said she’s just as competitive with them as she would be with anyone else.
“I was keeping stats,” she said. “I told my goalie how many saves we had. I don’t know if anyone else was keeping them, but I was.”The first goal of the first game on court 14 only took a few seconds. It set the competitive tone.
As the program’s popularity continues to grow in the United States, the organizational structure of it will evolve, Ortega said.
“The goal is to have a fun, safe, and competitive experience for them,” she said. “I don’t want to speak for everyone. I know for some, this is their first true experience of playing in a tournament at this level. It’s just very exciting. We all get jitters when we go out to the competition field. Everyone should have that. Everyone can see the excitement. It’s just contagious.”
The All Starz tournament was managed like the U-16 National Indoor Tournament, which was happening simultaneously. The National Anthem was played prior to the first game, and officials ran on the courts alongside the athletes. No athlete was carded during the event.
USA Field Hockey held a similar outdoor tournament at the 2022 Disney Field Hockey showcase, in which umpire manager Jeanne O’Brien participated.
“Officials haven’t been a part of this,” Ortega said. “This is Jeannie’s second experience. She recruited some umpires away from being paid at the other games.”
All Starz played from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
The ultimate goal is to offer an All Starz program in as many communities as possible, Ortega said.
“It’s not just inspiring the field hockey community, but the sports community altogether to make athletic, community, and friendship opportunities available to all,” she said. “It doesn’t matter, it’s for all abilities and disabilities, it’s inclusive hockey.”
Ortega continued: “Honestly, working with this community, it’s just that there’s such a genuine love for the game and it takes you back to why you participated in it in the first place. It’s so pure and so loving, and the passion and hard work and dedication, you see it as soon as you get on the court or field with them.”
To learn more about the All Starz program, please contact USA Field Hockey at email@example.com.