SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education approved the return of field hockey as a pay-to-play sport at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School next September, on the condition that supporters can raise the money to cover expenses for the season by June 1.
The effort was driven in large part by Carla Kelly and Joanne Reilly, who started this Scotch Plains Fanwood Field Hockey Club in October for the purpose of getting field hockey approved by the BOE. To do that, the club needed to set up a 501c3 organization to fund the pay-to-play.
"Joanne and I both played field hockey in high school and we thought it odd that SPF High School didn't have a team," said Carla Kelly, president of the Scotch Plains Fanwood Field Hockey Club. "After doing research, we found that there was a team, but it was dropped in 1990 due to low participation."
"We feel it is a perfect time to bring it back," Kelly continued. "There are more girls playing sports than ever and not enough teams. Girls soccer at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School usually gets about 90 girls trying out for 70-75 spots. There is now a sport for the ones who don't make it on the soccer team."
Planning started three years ago when Kelly met with athletic director Ryan Miller to discuss how it could be done.
"He suggested to start with a feeder program. I worked with the Scotch Plains Recreation Department to achieve this goal. In 2014, we had our first field hockey clinic," Kelly explained.
Kelly and Joanne Reilly, vice president of the field hockey club, started by coaching about 40 girls from second through sixth grades. Next, they added a spring break clinic. Because the interest level continued to grow, they decided to create a middle school team for the fall of 2015.
The team of 23 sixth through eighth graders was coached by two volunteers, Ally Neidig, a Terrill Middle school teacher, and Bethany Pisulak, a SPF high school teacher. The team played a 13-game schedule.
Kelly and Reilly plan to eventually field a 7/8 grade team and a 5/6 grade team and still have the clinic for 2-4 graders this fall.
"At the high school level, we will be starting out with a junior varsity level but are hoping to jump to varsity by the following year," Kelly Added. "We are hoping to start this all by the Fall of 2016-17, but we need to have enough money ($17,000) in the club's account for a year's worth of play by June 1. If we don't raise that amount then we will be looking at starting Fall of 2017-18."
The club has organized a golf outing at Ashbrook Golf Club on May 9 to raise funds for the field hockey team. Participants and sponsors can contact Nicholas Nitti at Nicholas.Nitti@cbre.com.
There will also be a meeting for any prospective players' parents on March 14 at the SPFHS.