“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” — Sir Edmund Hillary
A little over 15 weeks ago Heather agreed to serve in an interim role to assist the NFHCA through its leadership transition. Four weeks later Anne was elected into the role of President. Today, they share an open letter with the membership.
It has been almost three months since the start of our collaboration and we felt it was the right time to collectively share our thoughts on the present and future of the NFHCA. We both stepped into our respective roles at a time when Association stability was needed. We are coaches, like each of you, and when the moment called, we answered. We are grateful for the work of NFHCA staff members Kirstin Gebhart and Becca Main and for the support of our volunteer Executive Board. All are committed to a collective goal of seeing this Association through times unlike any other.
This past spring no one fully understood the impact COVID-19 would have on sport, yet here we are facing suspended seasons, furloughed coaches, and the worst of it all – discontinued programs. We, along with each of you, exist in a world where changes happen daily and, it seems, almost hourly. None of us can predict the final toll COVID-19 will have on the world of sports and field hockey in particular. What we do know is we need you to help this Association meet its mission of supporting and serving its members. We all need to be “an even better teammate than player” right now.
In the midst of navigating through COVID-19, our attention pivoted to the horrific killing of George Floyd and the subsequent societal outrage over systemic racism and white privilege. Understandably, our Black coaches and the Black field hockey community needed more from us, the NFHCA. The dialogue with Black colleagues, while very respectful, has been challenging and, at times, uncomfortable. Equally important, the dialogue has been collaborative, educational, constructive, and inspiring. Simply stated, there is no place in the NFHCA for exclusion and we offer our full commitment to broadening the lens of our Association governance and programming. We share common goals with the newly formed Black Field Hockey Network (BFHN) and look forward to a sustained partnership.
To recap: in three months we have faced Association leadership transition, a global pandemic, and a movement focused on eradicating racism – each of which significantly impacts our NFHCA. So often, both of us are asked by members “what are you doing about the leadership transition, our sport’s viability, and/or racism in our sport?” The following offers a brief synopsis of our work:
- Nearing completion of updated bylaws.
- Addressing committee vacancies.
- Continuing membership renewal.
- Solidifying financial position.
- Planning the Virtual Coaches’ Caucus (VCC) with dynamic and timely speakers.
- Ongoing conversation with the BFHN on ways to diversify and support our sport, our profession, and our leadership structure.
- Focusing our discussion at the Board level on our core values and mission. Recent action includes the addition of a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee.
- Sharing daily NCAA, conference, and institutional updates and planning for COVID-19.
- Arranging Association programming to support and serve our membership.
The NFHCA is not us – it is all of you actively engaged with us. We need you during these unprecedented times. Our sport and our Association are at a critical point; it will take all of our collective efforts to endure COVID-19 without any more loss; it will take a willingness to be vulnerable and honest as we work alongside our Black colleagues to remove racial barriers in our sport and our Association; it will take commitment of all members to do their small part to help this Association continue to thrive.
In short, these times call for teamwork and teammates.
Anne Parmenter, NFHCA President
Heather Lewis, NFHCA Interim Executive Director
“The best view comes after the hardest climb.” — Unknown