Seventy-two U13 and U19 boys brought sheer intensity to the Regional High Performance series in Moorpark, Calif. March 16 - 17. The athletes grew in their skills and tactical knowledge throughout the games with guidance from elite coaches consisting of former Olympians, Men’s National Team athletes and coaches.
Ventura County Red Devils (VCRD) was coached by Ben Maruquin, Sean Harris, Mike Whitehead and Nick "Cherry" Gendreau. Bay Area High Performance - NorCal Sharks (BAHP) was coached by Steve Danielson and Pat Cota. San Diego High Performance (SDHP) was coached by Kevin Barber "KB."
VCRD and BAHP had two U13 teams in the 6 v 6 series. VCRD #2 recorded a win in the first morning game while BAHP #2 also secured a victory in an early match-up. The U13 continued into the afternoon with a victory from VCRD #1 winning the match and BAHP #1 beating out SDHP.
The U19 game was a hard fought battle against VCRD and BAHP. The excitement of the game didn’t dwindle even during the remaining few seconds on the clock with a score of 3 - 2 and a close win for VCRD.
No matter the teams’ outcomes, the Regional High Performance coaching staff enjoyed the two days of tough competition while growing the game.
"It's exciting to see Olympian Steve Danielson in charge and coaching the BAHP U19 team,” said Maruquin Assistant Coach of the Men’s National Team and 1996 Olympian. “With his limited buildup to this match competition in Moorpark, he and Pat Cota have come up with a very good team. The match finished 3 - 2 in VCRD's favor, but it could of went the other way if their strikers would have taken their chances. Kevin Barber has done a remarkable job in creating an elementary school program in the southern San Diego area. With very limited resources he traveled North with a solid group of young players, SDHP is a reality in 2013!"
"This event pays testament to the growth of field hockey in the United States, particularly boys,” said Barber, Men’s National Team athlete. “It's competitions like this that turn boys teams into something you earn a spot on, rather than just joining. Each player involved is responsible for pushing this sport in a positive direction. A direction that will raise the level of American field hockey for men!"
"The U19 team played a fast and exciting style of play,” said Danielson a 1996 Olympian. “Both teams displayed a competitive spirit that ended with VCRD up on the NorCal Sharks 3 - 2. The U13 age group was a great display of developing men's hockey in the USA. Experience levels range from two months of playing, to six years and under the age of 13 is great to see. The future of the men's high performance program is bright."
"Compared to last year, all teams on all levels displayed an improved tactical and individual skill during the matches,” said Gendreau, U21 Men’s Junior National Team athlete. “They really rose to the challenge of competing at a top level. Many times people use the phrase, ‘big fish in a little pond’ but by expanding the development area of California we are able to expand their skills as well. Which is very promising for the future of the growth of these young high performance teams. And we look to what's in store for the next set of games we have coming up in April. It's also promising to see the parents getting so involved and putting in the time along with the coaches."
"This is a unique opportunity to bring over 70 male hockey players together and participate in a high performance environment,” said Cota, a retired Men’s National Team athlete. “By committing to think nationally and act regionally we are helping grow the game in California."
"Overall the local families enjoyed the weekend seeing boys play in a competitive regional match for the first time,” said Whitehead. “The home and away series will continue in April up in Stanford. This should be a great contest, as both areas refine their skills and tactical play to make the matches very competitive. Male hockey in the USA is going to continue to grow with this regional competitive model."
"No matter what country you’re in, international results and performance begin regionally,” said Maruquin. “We are off to a very positive start in 2013. We are very thankful to Kevin Barber for starting a U12 high performance team in southern San Diego. Steve Danielson and Pat Cota bringing the Bay Area and Sacramento regions together and finally the VCRD coaching staff and all the parents who are supporting their sons in this terrific Olympic sport."
Follow USA Field Hockey on YouTube to watch video highlights from the Regional High Performance series in Moorpark, Calif. March 16 - 17.