ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — It's wildly popular around the world — by some estimates, one of the top team sports internationally — but “field hockey” may not be the first that comes to mind here in the United States.
Some players out in Kirkwood are trying to change that.
“We started when we were really young,” said Georgia Reynolds, a third grader at North Glendale Elementary alongside her friend Hannah Guarneri. “And just got better and better and better.”
The girls spoke to 5 On Your Side while taking a break from a St. Louis Field Hockey Club camp in late July at Ursuline Academy.
“It's kind of like hockey, but it's a little different because it's on a field,” laughed 8-year-old Hannah.
Whether that’s the extent of a child’s field hockey knowledge, or they’ve been playing for years, coach and club founder Andrea Hood wants to create a space to grow those skills — and the game.
“St. Louis is a huge athletic city, in my opinion. We're very big into sports and I know that this sport can get to that point and I want to be part of helping it get there,” said Hood.
She said she became obsessed with the game after her mom convinced her to try out for the Ursuline freshman team.
“I'm a firm believer in like whatever lights your soul on fire. And that day something just clicked,” she recalled.
In just two years, she said the St. Louis Field Hockey Club has grown from 10 to more than 200 athletes.
“A lot of these kids have never played field hockey until they came to our club, so for me, that's growth, that's progress,” she said.
Around St. Louis, the sport is largely known as something for high school girls, but it's a guys' game in most countries where it's more popular. Coach Hood hopes it becomes a game all genders can enjoy and play equally around here, perhaps along with a balanced diet of other sports and activities for young children.
“I believe in them doing a lot of things and then they land where they're meant to be,” she said.
Whether it’s just for fun, to build other athletic and social skills, or the start of a bigger dream.
"Just like practicing so I can be a great player when I grow up,” said Georgia.
Field hockey starts by grabbing a stick, a ball and going for it.
“That would be fantastic,” said Hood. “I want to help it continue to grow.”
For more information about getting your family involved in field hockey around St. Louis, click here.