Recently, USA Field Hockey announced its women’s national team was relocating to a new temporary training site in Charlotte, North Carolina – the second such announcement in less than a year. In November 2020, it moved from its longtime home of Spooky Nook in Manheim, Pennsylvania, to The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken.
What’s happening and where will the organization go next?
According to a representative for USA Field Hockey, the organization is, in fact, seeking a permanent home – although the source notes there are no construction plans in the offing.
“At the moment, we don’t have a set plan to build. We’re looking for a new facility that will be conducive as a site for training our national teams, as well as one that is in a location that provides appropriate weather for year-round outdoor playing. We’d also like to host youth events at that facility.”
Currently, only the women’s national team
s is training at the new facility, Bessant Field, located on the campus of Queens University of Charlotte and part of the Queens Sports Complex. Some youth indoor tournaments are still being hosted at Spooky Nook.
USA Field Hockey’s source said the team enjoyed its time at The Proving Grounds, home to Villanova’s women’s field hockey team, but was in need of a facility that offered year-round warm weather.
Both The Proving Grounds and Bessant Field have the amenities needed by the national team, including water-based synthetic fields, locker rooms, training and weight rooms, medical facilities – “in other words, a lot of things you would see that would be typical of competitive college facility.”
Youth sports events can be played on surfaces other than the turf specified by USA Field Hockey.
Although the USWNT did not qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo, athletes will return to organized training at the beginning of August, preparing for the 2022 Pan American Cup, an FIH Hockey World Cup qualifier, set for January 20 through 30 in Santiago, Chile. The USWNT will also be partaking in the third season of the FIH Hockey Pro League, which begins October 6, but USA will have its first contest on February 16, 2022.
With the qualifier only months away, the USWNT will need to start intensive training in October and November.
While the organization had only planned to spend six months in Conshohocken, its previous site in Spooky Nook had hosted the team for 13 years. It was expected to remain there through 2027 but the contract was amended in early 2020.
According to the Manheim County Fox affiliate, the separation came about as a result of multiple factors, including changing needs for both USA Field Hockey and The Nook.
“As the needs of the USA Field Hockey national team have grown over the years, USA Field Hockey's needs have changed, and we have jointly decided that the Nook may not be able to accommodate all of those needs moving forward," said Sam Beiler, founder of Spooky Nook Sports, in a press release. "Spooky Nook’s roots are deep in the youth sports market, which means the highest demand for surface space is on evenings and over the weekends. This peak time demand has started to conflict with the needs of the USA Field Hockey national team. New pitches to support field hockey and other turf sports will be installed in 2020.