Though football season is still months away, the bleachers at the Michael J. Bragman Athletic Complex at Cicero-North Syracuse High School were heavily populated last Friday night.
Instead of a roaring crowd of fans and spectators, the seats were taken by athletes -- field hockey players from high schools across the northeast, all eager to take part in clinics and competitions at the first annual Northeast Field Hockey Showcase.
"The girls play all weekend to show their skills to college coaches," said Cathy Hobb, who headed the committee that organized the event. "These are some of the top players in the northeast."
The event included 150 girls from 50 high schools in five states, including athletes from C-NS, Liverpool, Baldwinsville, Cazenovia and Fayetteville-Manlius high schools. Nearly 50 colleges were also represented as scouts checked out the talent.
"The girls are playing to showcase their talents and skills to the coaches," Hobb said. "This is another way to reach college coaches, get more playing experience and start the process to play field hockey in college. That's the goal of this weekend."
Why field hockey, of all sports?
"Field hockey is a great game where the girls can show skills such as speed, stick skills and teamwork," Hobb said. "It's a game of skill and finesse."
Girls were assigned to teams with others from all over the northeast. The weekend kicked off on Friday night with a clinic on Friday led by coaches from Syracuse University, the University of Massachusetts and SUNY Cortland. Friday also included fun team-building activities like a three-legged race, cookie eating contest and a rock-paper-scissors competition. On Saturday and Sunday, the teams competed against each other while college coaches and scouts observed.
Hobb said that C-NS' stadium was an ideal place to hold the showcase.
"These facilities are fantastic," she said. "You can't ask for anything better. It has grass and turf fields, and it's centrally located."