It is an effort to promote the sport of field hockey, and it is coming to Bridgewater for four free clinics.
According to Peter Alvarez, a board member with the American Field Hockey Foundation [AFHF], the organization is looking to expand the game at a grass roots level.
“More children need to be exposed to this game at an earlier age, and the AFHF works in conjunction with USA Field Hockey to organize and run free clinics to promote the sport of field hockey,” he said.
And in order to do that, Alvarez said, they are starting by bringing the clinics to Bridgewater, co-hosting with the Bridgewater Recreation Department.
“AFHF works with many field hockey clubs, and one such club, the Spirit Eagles, has many players from the Bridgewater-Raritan High School as club members,” he said. “We felt that it would be best to host the clinics in a place that is an established field hockey team.”
Alvarez said AFHF is working closely with Christine Schneider, director of the recreation department; BRHS varsity field hockey coach Kathy DeBonis; Liz Tchou, of USA Field Hockey; and Bobby Isaacs, of AFHF.
“USA Field Hockey’s youth program is providing free equipment for the township to keep after this year’s clinic to allow the clinic to be repeated in the future,” Alvarez said.
The clinics will be held for girls and boys in grades two through nine, with any level of experience welcome. They will be held July 16, July 23, Aug. 6 and Aug. 13.
Alvarez said they hope that many students attend the clinics, which will help keep the game of field hockey alive and well in town.
“Bridgewater-Raritan High School field hockey is the winningest program in BRHS over the last seven years, I believe, and the township needs to create a feeder program to keep that tradition of excellence in tact,” he said. “If the end result is that we have 50 to 100 children playing field hockey before they reach BRHS, we’ve done a great job introducing them to the game and providing a place for them to continue their improvement.”
Those serving as mentors in the clinics will be licensed field hockey coaches and umpires, as well as current and former BRHS players. He said it also helps to have the local talent from players who have made it to the Group IV state finals in the school in recent years.
“The benefit of the student participation is the ability to pass on the personal experiences from those playing in high school and college, to those who may be interested in pursuing the sport further,” he said.
There are three ways to register for the clinics. One is to go to the Bridgewater Recreation Department from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays at the muncipal complex on Commons Way; drop the registration in the REC mail slot on the municipal grounds before or after office hours; or send it via the postal service.