Insights from Redwood Grant: Baumgardner and Clark Reflect on Transformative Year

Mar 13, 2024 | 2023-2024, News

MANAHAWKIN, NJ  — One year after being awarded the Redwood Grant, we caught up with the 2023 Redwood Grant recipients Danielle Baumgardner and Katie Clark to reflect on the personal impact of receiving the grant and to highlight the positive effects it has had on their organizations.

Baumgardner founded The Collab in January 2023 with the vision of supporting individuals and their families through their field hockey careers. The Collab serves as a “field hockey life coach” to mentor and train the whole person and their families via meetings and small group training sessions. The Redwood Grant was used to cover some of the initial costs of establishing a facility for field hockey training. Baumgardner was paired with NFHCA member coach, Betsy Ellis, owner of Panthers United Field Hockey Club.

Katie Clark, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Field Hockey Club, founded the club to provide a home for Colorado field hockey players to grow their skills and create genuine relationships with fellow athletes across the state. Clark and co-owner Emily Hazard started the new club team in the Denver area to provide more opportunities for players who didn’t make existing travel teams within the state of Colorado. The Redwood Grant helped the club find the steps to create their vision and grow the game in Colorado. Clark was paired with NFHCA member coach, Phil Edwards, owner of Path Coaching and Rutgers University Technical Director.

Q. What did receiving the 2023 Redwood Grant mean to you?

Danielle: This past year, I was fortunate to observe the NFHCA working at a closer level. It has been incredible to not only witness but work alongside strong leaders for our sport. I am incredibly honored and humbled by the generosity of these leaders and pioneers and to have their support of The Collab in its first year of operations.

Katie and Emily: Receiving the Redwood Grant meant support for us! Financial support, mentorship, and knowing that we had the field hockey community behind us helped us to stay motivated and know that we had people in our corner through this first year.

Q. What did receiving the 2023 Redwood Grant mean for your organization?

Danielle: As a result of the 2023 Redwood Grant, The Collab has established new partnerships with local field hockey clubs and athletic facilities. Because of these new partnerships, our Collab family has grown as we have access to increased training spaces and times. Additionally, this spring we have partnered with two new facilities with incredibly fast sport-specific field hockey surfaces. Some of our oldest training groups will have access to these to prepare them for playing the game at the next level.

Katie and Emily: For the organization, it meant a lot! For the players who are part of Rocky Mountain FHC, it allowed them to see the support that the field hockey community has behind them. They’ve also been able to benefit from the support that has been poured into the coaches through new equipment, growth in the number of coaches helping at practice and so much more!

Q. What were you able to accomplish with the support of the Redwood Grant?

Danielle: Through the guidance of the Sport Development Committee, speakers, and mentor, Betsy Ellis, The Collab was able to establish business practices and address barriers that will lead to sustainable operation with the ultimate goal of opening a training facility in the future.

Katie and Emily: We’ve been able to hire three additional coaches to help us build out the program (this has been huge), purchase more equipment (goals, more balls, indoor boards); we’ve introduced indoor field hockey this year and we’re able to attend a play-day to see how much we’ve grown this indoor season.

Q. How has it positively impacted the field hockey community you are working to develop?

Danielle: The Redwood Grant has and will continue to provide more opportunities for small group training and family mentorship over the next couple of years. It has been incredible to witness the impact of small group training sessions on individuals’ field hockey IQ, technical skill, and mental game, specifically confidence on and off the field. Additionally, The Collab has been able to support more families as they navigate the challenges of youth sports.

Katie and Emily: The game of field hockey is growing in Colorado! The Redwood Grant has helped us to create a more competitive environment to grow outside of high school field hockey and provide players with the opportunity to play in college, as well as raise the level of competition in the sport in Colorado.

Q. What is your biggest positive takeaway through the mentorship process?

Danielle: The generosity of the field hockey coaching community has been extremely evident. Starting with my mentor, Betsy Ellis, as well as fellow 2023 Redwood Grant mentors and mentees, Phil Edwards and Rocky Mountain Field Hockey Club, and others such as Emily Snowden, Lauren Cornthwaite, Michael Warari, and Jaime Pollock, I have personally witnessed the abundance mindset through the field hockey community’s support of The Collab during this past year. Typically, a scarcity mindset dominates sports rather than one of abundance. In a scarcity mindset, one sees another’s success as a threat. However, an abundance mindset acknowledges that success is not diminished by others and can even contribute to one’s own success. Those who have supported me in building The Collab have shown a readiness to help establish a robust foundation. Their support, connections, guidance, and suggestions have been instrumental in enabling The Collab to establish a sustainable base and thrive, serving the field hockey community in Central Pennsylvania.

Katie and Emily: The biggest positive takeaway from this mentorship experience is the advice to build a solid foundation and not get discouraged. Rome wasn’t built in a day and this process will take time but it has been amazing to have Phil and the other resources through the Redwood Grant available to us to help build this organization from the ground up.

Mentors Edwards and Ellis also provided us with their unique perspectives on serving as Redwood Grant mentors this past year.

What has serving as a 2023 Redwood Grant mentor meant to you?

Betsy: My experience mentoring Danielle through the business side of things was both rewarding and a learning experience for me as well. Being able to share my 19 years of experience was helpful to both Danielle and others in the program. The Redwood program allowed me to grow myself as I networked and met some great people through it all. I learned a lot about myself as well and enjoyed learning about other programs. I would recommend the Redwood program to anyone ready to mentor but also learn themselves.

Phil: It’s been an absolute pleasure to work alongside Katie and Emily over the past year. They are two wonderful, passionate, driven coaches who are helping to grow the game in Colorado and doing so The Rocky Mountain Way, by developing great teammates who demonstrate humility, and integrity, have a great mindset, and embrace the fun! I am excited to see where they can take the club in the years to come. As with any mentor-mentee relationship, being involved in the Redwood Grant has been an enriching experience for both sides of that coin and I highly recommend that coaches look to get involved to support the program in 2024 and beyond.

The Redwood Grant is powered entirely by the generosity of donors — donations will continue to be collected throughout the year.

The deadline to apply for the 2024 Redwood Grant is April 15. Apply here.

About the Redwood Grant:

The Redwood Grant’s mission is to support our remarkable community through meaningful connection. The grant was designed by our Sport Development Committee to not only give recipients funding to get their idea off of the ground, but to also provide structured mentorship and a community of support. Recipients receive funding, a one-on-one mentor, quarterly group meetings with guest speakers, and a community of people on whom to lean. If you have an idea, a field hockey business you want to grow, or an initiative in need of guidance and community, please apply here.

The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) is a nonprofit organization serving field hockey coaches and supporters of the game from across the United States. The mission of the organization is to stimulate the professional development of coaching leadership within the sport of field hockey. The NFHCA strives to cultivate and recognize the professional contributions of its membership and to foster and promote the growth of the sport. The NFHCA is responsible for providing a recognizable presence and voice in regard to legislation affecting the sport as well as interscholastic and intercollegiate programs.