Michigan as the Blueprint for Regional Field Hockey Growth


By Jessie Veith Rouleau

Since it's inception, Great Lakes Regional Field Hockey has moved forward with one mission in mind, to serve and support field hockey in the Great Lakes region by providing the foundation for a network of thriving field hockey communities, across all ages and skill levels.

In just over 3 years, field hockey in the state of Michigan has seen a spike in both numerical growth (participation numbers) and new programs. In youth programming, the communities of Rochester, Rockford, Grosse Pointe, and Commerce Township have seen Rec and Ed field hockey programming offered for the first time.

At the Middle and High School Levels, Northville, Novi, Farmington, Ann Arbor, Rockford and Grosse Pointe have all added teams for Fall league participation. In Partnership with the Michigan Chapter of USA Field Hockey, the state has run 9 Discover Field Hockey events in areas like Grand Rapids, Lansing, Oakland County, Farmington, Brighton and Macomb County.

GLRFH programming participation numbers have also seen growth year over year:

  • 2020 - 281 participating athletes
  • 2021 - 426 participating athletes
  • 2022 - 591 participation athletes & 53 coach members

Creating a model for growth has been multi-faceted. Executive Director, Keely Tamer, recognizes the importance of lifetime engagement and the need to cultivate both coaching and umpire growth while continuing to increase play opportunities in communities across the state.

So what comes next?

For Tamer, the model for growth is crucial. "We recognize that to grow the sport across the Great Lakes Region we need a model that has proven successful one part of the region."

And the model will look something like this:

  • Develop new local leagues across all ages and skill levels to create new opportunities and expand participation, leading to multi-faceted growth.
  • Tournament growth in the region. By increasing access to local tournament opportunities, Great Lakes Regional athletes are given the advantage of sleeping in their own beds and commuting locally vs. nationally.
  • Create a process for "how to" add field hockey at the middle and high school levels
  • Prioritize adding field hockey at the collegiate club level (for participation in the NFHL)
  • Reinstate at D2 & D3 field hockey programs in MI and across the region
  • Secure funding for Grants to support new programs
  • Fundraising practices to support new programs, education and facilities
  • Implement best practices for introducing the sport to new communities (e.g. USA Field Hockey Discover Field Hockey Program) & market new programming through existing, local sports networks for grass-roots growth.
  • Finally, recognizing that most regional areas have limited access to the fields and venues needed for growth model success. Remove access as a limiting factor and create partnerships with fields and venues to accomplish these goals. Build regional field hockey first field(s) to support future programs and tournament opportunities in the area.

To date, GLRFH has provided programming (for athletes ages 5 - 50+) to the following communities in Southeast Michigan:

Ann Arbor, Brighton, Birmingham, Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Canton, Chelsea, Clarkston, Commerce Twp, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Dexter, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Fenton, Grass Lake, Gregory, Green Oak, Grosse Ile Twp, Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Shores, Hartland, Howell, Linden, Livonia, Madison Heights, Manchester, Milford, Mt. Clemens, Northville, Novi, Pinckney, Plymouth, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, Saline, Scio, South Lyon, St. Clair Shores, Superior Twp., Troy, Wayne, West Bloomfield, Whitmore Lake, Ypsilanti

    Outside of Southeast Michigan, GLRFH has connected with the following areas:

    Byron Center, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Greenville, Holly, Midland, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Maumee, Wyoming. SHAPE Conference presenter.

    The GRLFH Board Members come to the table with passion, enthusiasm and excitement for growing the sport of field hockey. Their continued efforts, led by Tamer, will serve as the blueprint for future and extensive growth.

    For more information on the future of GLRFH in the region, growing the game of field hockey, or open programming in Michigan contact: info@glrfieldhockey.org.

    GLRFH is proud to support our field hockey community. Want to help future field hockey players find their path in life and sport? Donate to GLRFH today.

    GLRFH is a non-profit 503-c organization working to serve and support field hockey in the Great Lakes region by providing the foundation for a network of thriving field hockey communities.

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