Field hockey is coming to Trinity High School this fall.
In a post on the school’s website Monday, Trinity announced a new girls field hockey program for the 2022-23 school year. In the original announcement, Trinity acknowledged the start-up program as a club organization. Athletic director Eric Kindler confirmed Thursday that the program became PIAA sponsored earlier this week.
With support from the PIAA, Trinity expects to map out a competitive schedule with surrounding schools this fall but will not be affiliated with the Mid-Penn Conference. Kindler said Trinity is in the process of contacting the Mid-Penn in hopes of joining the conference in the next cycle of scheduling, planned for the 2024 season.
“I want all of our students, when they wear that ‘T’ on their chest,” Kindler said, “to have immense pride in what they do. And in some situations, they might not have the ability to do that because field hockey’s a sport we didn’t have yet. So, it’s just another great opportunity for us to showcase what we’re about in terms of our mission and our values and to compete with programs that are very well established that we can reach to and learn from.”
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The foundation to the program began with the approval of a turf surface at COBO Field this past spring, Kindler said. The turf’s installation, which began at the end of the spring sports season, allowed the school to move forward with its proposal of the field hockey program.
Interest in field hockey and the sport’s success across the Midstate helped move the proposal along. Last fall, 13 Mid-Penn teams qualified for the District 3 tournament and eight went on to advance for the PIAA championships.
“It was a bit of a practical question,” Kindler said of the initial start to creating the program, “because we needed a field to play on, and once we got that squared away in like late winter, early spring, we were like , ‘OK, let’s go put some feelers out with our community and see what they thought.’ So, they were pretty affirmative in their interest in it, and from there we were like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
As a PIAA-sponsored program, Trinity would have the opportunity to qualify for the district postseason with a proper competitive schedule in place this fall. However, Kindler said the Shamrocks plan to use the 2022 and 2023 campaigns to build up the program before they’re set to join the Mid-Penn Conference in 2024.
A lot of contingency with playing a competitive schedule also depends upon the new COBO Field facility being ready for the fall season.
“The big question is, what to do in that interim period, that trial period, if you will,” Kindler said. “And with speaking to my colleagues, other ADs, that have started programs, seeing where we’re at after that two-year period will actually be very good for us.”
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With practical measures intact, Trinity is currently working through the process of hiring a head coach and staff to kickstart the program. Unlike other cooperative programs with Camp Hill — which include boys and girls swimming and boys and girls lacrosse — Trinity student-athletes weren’t granted the avenue of competing with the Camp Hill program.
This fall marks the first opportunity of its kind for Shamrock student-athletes to play interscholastic field hockey. Kindler is eager to not only provide the opportunity to current field hockey players but hopes the opportunity attracts others to pick up a stick for the first time.
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“It’s very exciting and important for as many people in our community to be a part of that,” Kindler said, “and so, it’s absolutely essential for our students that are here currently to be part of something new that they can build themselves. And I want to make sure that we get the right staff in here that is going to lead that charge and be the architects of the new program.”
Photos: Merion Mercy at Mechanicsburg PIAA Field Hockey
Christian Eby is a sports reporter for The Sentinel and cumberlink.com. You can contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at: @eby_sports