Kirby’s Club: Defense and Teamwork win Championships!

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The Ohio State Field Hockey Tournament was held on Friday, November 5
and Saturday, November 6 at Upper Arlington Stadium in Columbus. What
occurred there is worth noting so I am departing from my scheduled blog
to honor St. Ursula Academy
and their play that weekend.

 

Congratulations St. Ursula Academy and Coach Catlin.

The Ohio State Field Hockey Tournament was held on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6 at Upper Arlington Stadium in Columbus. What occurred there is worth noting so I am departing from my scheduled blog to honor St. Ursula Academy and their play that weekend.

Anyone knowledgeable about field hockey (or even sports in general) who saw St. Ursula play in the state tournament will not be surprised at their two wins. They were an example of the basic tenets of all sports…..Defense  and Teamwork wins championships!!

I took the liberty of combining two quotes to summarize their weekend performance.  The first “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships” is attributed to Dave Thorson, a Minnesota basketball coach and has been the subject of much discussion among sports enthusiasts and commentators. A google search will turn up countless articles on the topic. There are even commentators who have done statistical analysis across multiple sports on the professional level. And, despite their skepticism, the overwhelming consensus is that despite the fact that “scorers” get paid the big money in sports and create the excitement for the crowd (“Offense sells tickets!”), that the quote is proven true time after time…..”defense wins championships”!

St. Ursula played basic solid defense throughout the entire game on Friday, exhibiting focus and discipline. They were aggressive to the ball and disciplined in their positioning. While I did not see the Saturday game against Thomas Worthington, (which St. Ursula won 1-0), the statistics speak volumes.

While Thomas Worthington outshot and out-cornered St. Ursula, St. Ursula won! It was their defense, including outstanding play in the goal, that allowed them to withstand Thomas Worthington’s strong offense and win in spite of the above fact.

My friend and High Performance teammate, Carrie Lingo, captain of the USA Women’s National team and 2008 Olympian, once said, “think of all 10 of your field players playing defense and operating as one defensive unit across the whole field. Think of how powerful that could be.” And, for St. Ursula it was!!

The second reason for St. Ursula’s success is embodied in a quote with a different spin on the former quote from basketball phenomenon, Michael Jordan. “Talent wins games, but teamwork ….wins championships.” St. Ursula did nothing fancy. They stuck with a simple “touch and release” strategy.

“Find a teammate” was a mantra of my former high school field hockey coach, Don Warner, a former National Indoor Team player, whenever a teammate or I touched the ball, focusing us on unselfish team play.

“Keep it simple” he always said and  St. Ursula did just that. Through this simple philosophy, Coach Catlin  created a working machine that passed and moved around the field as one piece of a bigger defensive whole and for that reason her team came home with the trophy.

I love watching good field hockey and love playing it even more. And, I respect nothing more than an opponent who plays good fundamental hockey against me and my team.  The only thing I respect more is great coaching and great preparation. As we were warming up prior to the semifinal game and I saw the St. Ursula team practicing strokes on the pitch, I knew they were well prepared and would be a worthy opponent. After the semifinal ended that Friday, I found myself congratulating Coach Catlin on her win and on a well coached game and the players for their teamwork and for giving 100% throughout the entire competition.

St. Ursula’s victory was a high point in Ohio field hockey because it showcased what is important in the sport.  We, the entire field hockey community including field hockey players,  coaches and fans all need to applaud good coaching, good defense and above all teamwork.   And, for the positive growth of field hockey in Ohio we need to follow St. Ursula’s example and build on it for the future.

Congratulations St. Ursula Academy, 2010 Ohio FIeld Hockey Champions!

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