We are delighted to announce that Focus Field Hockey will oversee the running of the Albemarle Girls Field Hockey League from 2019 onwards!
The collaboration between AGFHL and Focus will see both groups be "stronger together" by marrying a well-established recreational league with top-quality instruction, education and guidance from Focus.
"We are looking forward to developing the AGFHL to enhance the sport and the opportunities for female athletes in Charlottesville, Albemarle County and beyond," said Focus club director Kristen McCann, a former USA national team player.
"Maureen Perriello and her family have a long history of growing the game in the area. They have continued it as a labor of love and understood the value of making the program accessible to all children."
Maureen said it had been a pleasure to run the league for the past 14 years, and that handing it off to Focus Field Hockey “ensures the next crop of players will take the league to the next level”.
“My favorite part of running the AGFHL has been the players who come back to coach, officiate, or just say ‘thanks for getting me out on the field and getting me started’,” said Maureen.
“My mother-in-law started this league almost 40 years ago when middle school girls had no option to play field hockey. It was important to me that whoever took over the league would stay true to the goal of ensuring the best possible field hockey experience to as many young girls as possible. The AGFHL of Charlottesville is ready to go to the next level and Focus will take them there.”
The AGFHL was established in 1980 by Linda Gillooly Perriello and provides recreational field hockey opportunities every fall via a competitive six-week program, culminating in a finals weekend. Players compete at the U8, U10, U12 and U14 age grades and have weekly practices alongside their Sunday games on the turf fields at St Anne's-Belfield School. It also has a sister competition, the Albemarle Girls Lacrosse League (AGLL), that runs along similar lines in the spring, which Maureen will continue to run.
Upskilling coaches and umpires is a crucial element to ensure every child has a positive learning experience through AGFHL. To that end, AGFHL coaches and umpires will receive educational seminars under the tutelage of Focus coaching director Alan Good, the varsity head coach at The Covenant School, a USA Field Hockey coach educator and a former Division 1 umpire in his native Ireland.
AGFHL has a tradition of giving high school players their first taste of umpiring and coaching, something Focus intends to build upon. We aim to train high school athletes to be able to do both, ensuring we develop a larger local base of educated and passionate coaches, helping them to be more well-rounded members of the field hockey community.
"Focus will be upskilling coaches and umpires with the aim of having the highest quality of both available in the future," said Kristen McCann. "When you add in starting the sport at a young age and playing on field turf as often as possible during the foundation stage, we will be giving Charlottesville athletes the ability to enjoy the game at whichever level they go on to play at."
Focus will provide age-appropriate curriculums featuring games-based learning, to help assist AGFHL coaches with their practices for the recreational league every fall. The club will also use its online signup tools, powered by SportsEngine, and significant social media presence to help make improvements regarding registration and the overall visibility of the league.
AGFHL participants will also be offered the chance to continue to play field hockey as part of Focus's club and academy programs in Charlottesville.
The Focus club program is for girls who have experience in the sport, have learned the basics and are looking to take their skills to the next level. We have a mixture of players at U12, U14, U16 & U19 who are looking to improve themselves to try and better their school team, and also those who are aiming to play in college.
The club also offers academy programs for girls who are newer to field hockey and are looking to learn the game's fundamentals in a fun but competitive environment. Academy programs are shorter (6-8 weeks) to allow girls discover the sport without having to make a long commitment to it, and are offered to U8, U10, U12 and U14 players.