• Travis Thornburgh

Tournament Primer: Iowa Field Hockey

With the Iowa field hockey's recent run through the Big Ten tournament and selection to the NCAA Tournament, I took a dive into the sport of field hockey and the history of field hockey at Iowa. What I found was a much more richly historic sport than I originally anticipated and a rich history of success for Iowa.


Field Hockey As A Sport


Field hockey, or a sport very similar to it, can be traced back over 3,000 years and is regarded as one of the oldest team sports in recorded history. Early forms of the sport have been traced to the classical Greek era and closely resemble the Gaelic sport of hurling. Field hockey in varying forms was played around the world unhindered until the 14th Century, when King Edward III of England, banned all leisure sports for the working class.


Field hockey, or a sport very similar to it, can be traced back over 3,000 years and is regarded as one of the oldest team sports in recorded history. Early forms of the sport have been traced to the classical Greek era and closely resemble the Gaelic sport of hurling. Field hockey in varying forms was played around the world unhindered until the 14th Century, when King Edward III of England, banned all leisure sports for the working class.


Field hockey, or a sport very similar to it, can be traced back over 3,000 years and is regarded as one of the oldest team sports in recorded history. Early forms of the sport have been traced to the classical Greek era and closely resemble the Gaelic sport of hurling. Field hockey in varying forms was played around the world unhindered until the 14th Century, when King Edward III of England, banned all leisure sports for the working class.


Following a lull in its popularity, field hockey emerged in its modern form in the public schools of 19th century England. The game continued to develop and rivaled the popularity of rugby and soccer in England at its peak. During the period of English colonization all around the world, the British army took field hockey with them and continued to grow the popularity of the sport on a global scale. The first international competitive match took place in 1895 and field hockey was included in Olympic competition from 1908 to 1924 and again from 1928 to 1956. Field hockey experienced its greatest popularity in former colonies of Great Britain, namely the United States, India, and .


Today, international competition is governed by the International Hockey Federation, which has been the primary governing body for internationl field hockey since 1970.


Collegiate Field Hockey in the United States


Field hockey was added to the slate of NCAA governed sports during the same 1981-1982 school year that saw 11 other women's sports added to the NCAA tournament program. The sport was previously governed under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. In its original form, the NCAA Field Hockey Tournament had a field of 6 teams. The field has since expanded to 19 teams and there are now 78 field hockey programs that compete at the Division 1 level. In its brief 38 season history, 11 different schools have hosted the national championship trophy, with Old Dominion leading the way at 9.


Field Hockey in Iowa City


Field hockey became a varsity sport at the University of Iowa in 1977 and was originally a member of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). Iowa made an AIAW postseason tournament in each of its first five seasons prior to becoming a member of the NCAA. Iowa has enjoyed sustained success since joining the NCAA in 1982. The Hawkeyes have accumulated 11 NCAA tournament Final Fours on 26 NCAA tournament appearances, 12 conference championships, 6 Big Ten tournament championships, and were crowned the National Champions in 1986. Iowa has also rarely experienced a down season, having only recorded 5 losing seasons since 1977.


The 2019 Iowa Hawkeyes


The 2019 edition of Iowa field hockey team saw the Hawkeyes going 16-4 overall, with an outstanding 7-1 record in Big Ten conference play, en route to securing a share of the Big Ten regular season title. Iowa then traveled to State College, Pennsylvania as the No. 2 seed for the Big Ten tournament, where they defended their regular season title with victories over 7th seed Ohio State, 3rd seed Northwestern, and the hometown 5th seed Penn State in overtime.


The 6th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will continue their postseason journey when they travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Friday to take on the 8th ranked Duke Blue Devils, with a chance to play the winner of Stanford vs. No. 1 North Carolina on Sunday. Friday's match will be a rematch of an early season matchup that saw Duke leaving Iowa City with a 2-1 overtime victory in mid-September. The game will be played at 1:30 P.M. on Friday, November 15. Iowa currently ranks 9th in the country in goal scoring, averaging just over 3 goals per game. The Hawks also rank 6th in scoring margin, outscoring their opponents 1.85 goals per game. Friday's game can be followed on the NCAA's website.


I won't pretend to know what to expect on Friday, but it is always exciting when Iowa has a chance to win a national title, no matter what sport it is in!


As always, On Iowa! and Go Hawks!


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About Travis

A lifelong Hawkeye fan and a 2017 graduate of the University of Iowa in Civil Engineering, Travis now calls Des Moines, Iowa home and continues to passionately follow University of Iowa athletics

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