When Indian River School District field hockey coaches Jodi Stone, Pattiva Cathell and Molly Chamberlin began organizing the IRSD Field Hockey Camp, they had one goal in mind — to generate interest in the sport. After their inaugural campaign last week, it’s safe to say that that goal was met with overwhelming success.
“It went as good as it could have gone. It was awesome,” said Chamberlin. “It was really successful. We saw a lot of improvement from Monday to Thursday — every day, they were pumped.”
“I think that the numbers were great. We weren’t expecting to have the 90-plus,” Cathell said of the turnout. “I was super-stoked with the number — our biggest numbers were in the elementary-school level. There were some kids who had no exposure prior to the camp.”
As promised, the camp catered to players of all experience levels — from beginners, to high school players that had been playing for years. With each prohibited from coaching their own players in the off-season, Cathell worked with the high-schoolers, while Stone worked with the middle-schoolers and Chamberlin the elementary-school players.
“The first activity we did every day was a group activity, so the kids could bond with the older kids — they loved it,” explained Chamberlin. “The high-school kids kind of took the elementary-school kids under their wing.”
While Chamberlin focused on showing the younger group the fun of the sport, Cathell focused on possession, momentum and stick skills with the older group, to help them prepare for the upcoming season at Indian River and Sussex Central high schools.
“I think, with the older kids, they were able to advance on their stick skills,” Cathell said. “We were able to do a lot of game-like situations. We were able to break down the game very specifically because of the numbers that I had.”
On the last day of camp, the girls were able to show off what they had learned with a scrimmage — one that would ultimately end in a water-balloon fight.
“We wanted to end with something fun that they would remember the camp by. The last day was pretty much all game play, tournaments,” said Chamberlin. “They got to show what they learned all week.”
“I think, because we were able to stop and talk about positioning, that they were able to apply that during the scrimmage,” Cathell added. “There was very little whistling coming from me as the referee, and they were able to communicate and use the skills they built the first three days.”
After the camp, there was so much positive feedback on the experience and the sport coming from both the parents and the players that the coaches decided to set up “drop-ins” on Tuesday nights from 6 to 7 p.m., starting on July 22, at Millsboro Middle School and spanning until the school year.
“It’ll just be small games, and we’ll try to mix up the skill level,” explained Cathell. “If any of the campers want to come and play, they can.”
From there, the goal is to create a rec league that can act as a feeder program for Indian River School District field hockey teams.
“That’s what’s going to be our feeder program. That’s exactly what our goal was,” noted Cathell. “I don’t think there are a lot of girls that realize that field hockey is an option, because we just haven’t had a lot of support in the past few years. That is just huge for them to have gone to camp together, to have that experience together.”