SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY, NJ — Long drives on weekends and evenings to your daughter’s skill training for field hockey, soccer and lacrosse can now be a thing of the past with the advent of Phoenix Elite NJ, right here, in Southern Ocean County.

Welcoming female athletes aged six through 18 in the aforementioned sports at the beginning, intermediate and elite playing levels, Phoenix Elite’s resounding mission is to, “educate, equip and empower young women throughout Southern Ocean County and the surrounding environs through sport and teamwork in order to develop strong, confident female leaders of the future.”

The vision for the organization was born out of co-owner Robin Meaney’s former brainchild, New Heights Field Hockey, LLC., which serves the communities of Central and Northern New Jersey in building the skills of field hockey and sportsmanship to elementary through high school-aged females.

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Phoenix Elite’s goals as an organization are to serve the same-age female athletes in Ocean County in the sports of field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse, training them in sport-specific skills and tactical thinking and decision-making to catapult them to the next level of performance and above the competition. 

“I recently had a conversation with someone close to me in which sports were not a large part of their youth experience. When asked ‘what did I get from sports’, I paused and then responded, ‘sports, team, really defined me. It gave me my spirit. It gave me my discipline. It gave me my goals - and it gave me my dreams. I would not be the person I am today without sport. Team. Community. Family.”

Laurie Temple, co-owner and a Southern Ocean County native and former three-sport varsity athlete at Pinelands Regional High School, echoed Meaney’s sentiments.

“I cannot imagine where I would be in life without the sense of self and self-esteem that participating in team sports provided me - and I started out in the late 1970s, when opportunities for female athletes — especially here in Ocean County — were extremely slim,” Temple said. “I want my five-year-old niece and all of her friends to have all the training and opportunity that did not exist in this area until I was already playing soccer in college at Frostburg State University. That’s what we envisioned bringing here. That’s why we started Phoenix Elite NJ.”

Phoenix Elite’s stable of coaches include members who not only enjoyed prolific careers as All-Conference, All-State and All-Americans at the collegiate level, but who have also built stellar resumes as coaches in their own right — creating winning programs at the club and high school levels. 

One of those coaches, Jenna Lombardo-Adams, who will serve at head of field hockey programs for Phoenix Elite, explains that the organization is steadfast to holding to its mission.

“We are not just out to create exceptional athletes. We also want to help nurture these girls into exceptional human beings. One's in which understand responsibility, commitment — and even learn how to fail. We are fostering leadership, self-esteem, hard-work and teamwork,’ Lombardo-Adams said.

Phoenix Elite’s Head of Soccer Programs, Nicole Pallante, has a similar perspective.

“I owe so much of my success to all the lessons I learned on the field, on the court, and in the weight room and I want to provide that valuable opportunity to as many girls as I can,” Pallante said. “Sports are so important for kids because they allow them to learn to cope with failure in a safe environment with the support of their coaches and teammates. This experience is invaluable, for girls especially, because it builds self-esteem, confidence, and independence. Sports transformed me from a painfully shy kid who was too afraid to be herself into a woman who finally feels at home in her own skin. Having just graduated from college and entered the adult world, I'm seeing firsthand how well the leadership & interpersonal skills, work ethic, and character I developed in my athletic career prepared me for real life. My focus as a coach is not just building a good player, but a good person who is equipped to deal with whatever challenges they face even long after they've hung up their cleats.”

Registration for Phoenix Elite’s Spring field hockey and soccer sessions have already begun. Programs will begin April 18. They will be composed of six-hour sessions (one day per week). All opening training will take place on the turf at Trident Fitness & Performance in West Creek — the facility partner for the organization.

Families can visit Phoenix Elite’s website, www.PhoenixEliteNJ.com for program and registration details.  You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram as Phoenix Elite NJ.

“We are thrilled to begin this journey in Southern Ocean County and cultivate successful females that will lead our area and beyond well into the future,” Meaney concluded.

Any questions can also be directed to: PhoenixEliteNJ@gmail.com.