Field hockey decline

By Wes Swietek

Judging by the numbers, women’s field hockey has been a sport on the decline since the mid- 1980s.

Because of the declining number of schools offering field hockey, the Illinois High School Association dropped it as a sanctioned sport, leaving only 12 high schools in Illinois that offer the sport at the club level.

Eleven of those schools are in the northern Illinois area and one is downstate, forcing those schools to frequently play teams from neighboring states.

Participation in girl’s soccer has soared at the same time. The IHSA reports that since the sport’s recognition in 1988, 130 schools now offer girl’s soccer programs.

According to the NCAA, there are 74 Division I women’s field hockey programs and 91 Division I schools that offer women’s soccer.

In all divisions, women’s soccer is offered at 350 schools, while women’s field hockey is offered at 213.

In the early 1980’s, Wisconsin dropped its field hockey program and replaced it with women’s soccer.