Kirby’s Club: Hathaway Brown star offers up player’s perspective on recruiting, field hockey and more


Hathaway Brown’s Sydney Kirby has been selected to the USA Junior National Field Hockey Team four times.

Welcome to the first installment of a NEW JJHuddle blog from Hathaway Brown senior Sydney Kirby. Kirby is a very talented student and athlete who is competing on the Blazers golf and field hockey teams. Her blog will cover many topics and will also serve to educate others on the recruiting process and field hockey in general. Enjoy, we know you will…

Welcome to the first installment of a NEW JJHuddle blog from Hathaway Brown senior Sydney Kirby. Kirby is a very talented student and athlete. This fall she is competing on the Blazers state qualifying golf team and is a key member of the school’s field hockey team. Headed to Princeton University, Kirby excels at everything she does, but field hockey is her calling card. She’s been a member of the USA Junior National Team for the last four years and was a First Team All-American last season. In fact, Kirby is the first Ohio player chosen for the USA National Team since 2006 and only one of three high school players nationwide who have been selected for the team four years in a row. Kirby also helped the USA win bronze in field hockey at the 2010 Pan Am Youth Games. Sydney’s blog will cover many aspects of athletics and student life and it will also serve to educate others on the recruiting process and field hockey in general. Enjoy, we know you will…


Over the past few years there have been an increasing number of Ohio field hockey players taking their game to the next level and playing field hockey in college.  2010 marked an even more significant trend….an increase in the number of Region 9 (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan & Pittsburgh) players participating in the USA Field Hockey Futures Program and an increased number of players selected to the Region 9 Regional Team which represented the Midwest at the National Futures Championship (NFC).  This is highly significant since the NFC is the gateway to outstanding field hockey training and events as well as the best exposure to college coaches. 

Because of this trend, my blog is about the College Field Hockey Recruiting Process from a “player’s perspective”, viewing recruiting as an opportunity for you to find your perfect fit, not a selection process that leaves you at the mercy of college coaches.  Hopefully, it will help many of you take your game to the next level. Within the NCAA there are 79 Division I programs, 27 Division II programs and 159 Division III programs.  On the Club Level, the well-organized National Field Hockey League has 5 divisions with 83 teams and many additional colleges have club teams that are not a part of the League.  With this many playing opportunities there is a team for every level of play and everyone who is passionate about the sport!  I hope my blog will help you and your family create college playing options and, ultimately, find the team that is the perfect fit for you!

Disclaimer: This blog reflects my personal experience in the recruiting process.  Others may have had different experiences, but this is what I have learned over the years and I hope it is beneficial to both parents and players.

College Field Hockey Recruiting- Survivor, The Amazing Race and Facebook

So you want to play field hockey in college?  Well, get ready to enter your own personal season of Survivor and the Amazing Race.  The truth is you can “survive” and the race is yours to win because the recruiting process is actually a two-way street.    The process is not about “being chosen”, but researching the right fit for you, your academics, your field hockey skill level and your value system.  College field hockey teams, either NCAA sanctioned or club level, are living breathing entities with their own personalities and cultures and successfully surviving the recruiting process is nothing more than finding the college and the team that is the perfect fit for YOU.  It is about finding the group of players with whom you feel at home and share common goals and interests, both on and off the field.  In the end, the Survivor of the recruiting process is the player who has generated playing options that fit her personality.  Through this blog, I will help you set yourself up to have those choices.

So, don’t get “psyched out” by the recruiting process and become a passive participant because you as the player have more power than you realize.  There is a team for you if you have a passion for the sport, are willing to do your homework and are realistic about your abilities.  With over 265 NCAA sanctioned field hockey programs (and 5 more on the way for 2011) and over 83 club field hockey teams, …everyone can find a team to take their game to the next level.

If you have even considered playing in college, you probably have been inundated with summaries of the NCAA recruiting rules.  While all sports follow the same “set of rules”, the processes and opportunities are unique to each and, there is much more to successfully negotiating the process than knowing the rules. Just as in Survivor and in The Amazing Race, there are pitfalls, detours, and twists and turns.  Through my blog, hopefully, I can help you avoid some of them. 

As I begin my blog, here are a couple of “clues” to help you survive as you begin the process.

First, beware of your own facebook page or other social networking site.  Don’t sabotage your field hockey future (or any other future for that matter).  You can imagine my surprise when on one of my unofficial visits as a sophomore, the assistant coach of a top ten program told me “I was on your facebook page…Long dramatic pause….  Don’t worry you were clean.”  While we as teenagers believe in the “security” promised by some unknown webmaster, once something is published to our social networking pages, it is available to everyone with the resources or creativity to access it.  The bottom line is that you are being recruited for “who you are”, no matter what your skill level, and coaches will use every resource to learn about you as a person before they will ever entertain bringing you into their family.  Remember, coaches want to avoid players that might be a bad influence on their team and this is one vehicle through which coaches are now “vetting” (performing background checks) on players.

It is never too early to start the process!
Actually, anytime you step on the pitch from 8th grade on, you are being evaluated by coaches, referees and alumni.  Top Division I programs start their recruiting “watch lists” as early as 8th grade so from then on players are being watched both “on” and “off” the ball and “on” and “off” the field.

The NCAA Rules’ timetables are based on the older system of recruiting when most college coaches didn’t make commitments to players until their senior year. One of the largest recruiting showcases, “Festival” during Thanksgiving weekend used to be about recruiting seniors.  However, more recently a trend started with the top 5-10% of players getting offers in their junior year and now that has even moved to sophomore year for the very top players.

Recruiting Myth & The Intangibles
One of the biggest myths about the field hockey recruiting process is that it is only about your statistics, honors or accomplishments.  While certain thresholds in these areas are required for each college program, coaches are looking for more than what you look like on paper or what they see in a video.  It is the “intangibles” that coaches also assess as they invite players to become part of their family.  Here are just a few of the intangibles that coaches look at and that actually define each team and its core values.

· Work Ethic
· Accountability
· Mental Strength
· Leadership
· Commitment
· Communication

Every team is a Family
The “intangibles” form the foundation of each team’s core value system and help define the team’s personality.  As one Division I coach put it “the team is our family and we fiercely protect it.”  Coaches are very selective and discriminating about who they pick to enter their inner circle and become part of this close-knit group. Coaches want to get to know you and your value system, personality and family to determine if you will fit within their team and into their team chemistry, regardless of how skilled a player you are.  And frankly, you should want to get to know them too so that you are comfortable with the “family” you will be practicing, playing and training with over your four years of college.

In future postings I will talk about researching the team “value system” and hence, “personality” so you can find a place that fits you.

So, before you begin your race,  it is important for you to honestly assess yourself and determine where you stand and what you want in your college experience in these areas.  Are you willing to work 40+ hours per week, review videos, spend hours on strength and conditioning or would you rather play and practice 4 hours per week?  Do you have the mental strength to compete at the highest level or are you uncomfortable under pressure?  Can you be accountable to your team at every minute of practice and  give up social opportunities or do you want to play when it fits into your personal schedule?  Do you have the commitment to give up your Spring Break for your college years to train and travel with your team?  Answers to the above questions will help you determine what level of play will suit you, with the choices ranging from Division I to loosely organized club teams.

Later blogs will talk about how to realistically assess your talent level and match college programs to your skill level, accomplishments and experience.

The very first step in the recruiting process is to work closely with your college counselor, starting as early as the beginning of 9th grade to identify the academic criteria of a college that fits you.  Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that while we are all passionate about field hockey, the purpose of attending college is first and foremost to get an education. 

No matter where you want to play field hockey in college, the first step is meeting the academic threshold requirements of the academic institution.  While various schools have different measuring sticks (for example, the Ivy League uses the Academic Index which is a  rating based upon GPA, class rank and various test scores), they all have  standards which may include minimum SAT scores or GPAs, etc.  The worst “detour” you can take in your recruiting quest is to focus on schools for which you are not academically qualified. 

Once you have come up with a matrix of academically appropriate groups of colleges, then start your research on the individual field hockey programs.  My next blog will help you in your research and identify various sources and activities which will help you learn about various field hockey programs.

Next week’s blog is titled:
“Uncovering the Team’s Personality”

Potential future blogs include:
“The NCAA Rules and your day to day recruiting”
“September 1 and July 1”
“The Recruiting Difference and your home state”
“The Misperception About Statistics”
“How to Honestly Evaluate Your Recruitability”
“Building Relationships with Coaches to Stay in the Game”
“ Don’t Forget the Basics”
“Off Season-The Most Important Time!”
“What is the Coach really saying?….Reading between the lines”
“Unofficial and Official Visits”
“Recruiting Lingo- Recruits, Walk-ons, Scholarship recruits”
“USA Field Hockey Futures Program”
“Camps, Clinics & Showcases”
“Parents- Coaches are Recruiting you! What not to do”
“Who Needs a Recruiting Video and Why”
“Division I, II and III and the Recruiting Differences”
“Field Hockey Scholarships”
“The Ohio Conflict Field Hockey/Lacrosse”
I also will include links to field hockey recruiting resources and research tools which might be helpful.

Have a great week of hockey and talk to you next week.  Please let me know if there are any topics you would like discussed. (You can email questions by clicking here).

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