TORONTO, Canada – July 22, 2015 – Eight of the 12 most sought-after tournament invitations on a global scale in the sport of field hockey are claimed. Today one more prized invitation to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics was awarded to the well-deserving U.S. Women’s National Team.
“A lot of hard work has gone into the program in the last two years, ” added U.S. Women’s Head Coach Craig Parnham. “I think the players absolutely deserve this. They’ve done a terrific job. When we get to the backend of the Pan American Games, we’ll start putting a schedule together to prepare us for next summer.”
By securing a 3-0 win over host nation Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games Semifinals, Team USA is set to meet Argentina in the Pan American Finals on Friday. Argentina previously gained Olympic qualification through their FIH World Ranking and their placement at Hockey World League Semifinals in Spain. Team USA, as a result of their 5th place finish in the World League Semifinals and 5th FIH World Ranking, is now assured of their place at the Olympic Games.
This tremendous milestone is a goal the team has consistently focused its entire energy to achieve. A timeline of landmark accomplishments, including a 2014 Champion Challenge gold medal and a 4th placement finish at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, rejuvenated Team USA as an international threat in the hockey world after disappointing results at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The red, white and blue fought tirelessly to move an incredible seven spots, from 12th to 5th, on the FIH World Ranking scale in a short two years. The induction of Head Coach Craig Parnham and his world-class staff in 2013, as well the team’s relocation from Chula Vista, Calif. to the hot-bed of hockey in Lancaster, Pa. strengthened the team to produce outstanding pitch performances. With Olympic Games selection added to their noteworthy achievements, the team’s journey continues upward.
“We are obviously extremely happy and proud to have earned a place in the Olympic Games in Rio 2016,” said Board of Directors Chair Shawn Hindy. “The hard work, sacrifice and dedication from the U.S. Women’s National Team deserves recognition and honor. Not only do we thank the players, but the entire coaching staff and management as well as the whole of USA Field Hockey and our members for supporting our national teams.”
Ten athletes on Team USA’s roster have previously earned and experienced the immense honor of representing the United States at the pinnacle of their sport, with some participating in more than one Olympic Games venue. These USWNT members include Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, PA), Melissa Gonzalez ( Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, NC), Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.), Julia Reinprecht(Perkasie, Pa.), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, PA) and Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.).
“We put a lot of days on the field and off the field preparing for this moment,” said Selenski. “I’m so proud of this group of girls. We definitely worked our tails off. It’s an honor to represent your country and wear the red, white and blue.”
“I love wearing the USA jersey next to my teammates,” said USA Captain Crandall. “I really believe in this group and what we’re about to accomplish going forward.”
“This is an awesome feeling,” said Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.) “I think we improve every single game and we keep getting better and better. We’re not done. This hard work is going to continue to pay off. Everyone on this team gives it there all.”
International teams who are already qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games are Korea, Great Britain, China, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand. The remaining three 2016 Olympic Games invitations will be awarded based off of the FIH World Ranking system and the last three continental championships. The final three continental championship include Euro Championship (August 21-30), Oceania Cup (October 21-25) and Africa Cup for Nations (October 17-25).