NFHCA selects Munson, Reynoso, Smeltz as 2024 Redwood Grantees

May 20, 2024 | 2023-2024, News

Julie Munson, head coach, Southern New Hampshire University.

MANAHAWKIN, NJ — The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Sport Development Committee is excited to announce Julie Munson, Harriette Reynoso, and Lydia Smeltz as the recipients of the 2024 Redwood Grant, an annual grant awarded to ambitious field hockey coach entrepreneurs. The recipients are provided funding and a year of mentorship to support their entrepreneurial efforts. 

Munson is the head field hockey coach at Southern New Hampshire University. Amidst the pandemic, she became certified as a mental performance coach, enhancing her ability to merge mindset training with field hockey clinics. Guided by her mission to empower others through field hockey, Munson seeks to expand her reach through online “huddles”, aiming to gather a wider audience. Additionally, she aspires to train fellow coaches, recognizing the potential to amplify their impact. She also seeks guidance on launching them effectively, aiming to empower individuals with life skills transcending sport and enhancing mental well-being.  Munson hopes to transition towards an online platform, which could facilitate offering workshops and trainings globally, breaking geographical barriers to learning.

“I am beyond grateful to be a recipient of the Redwood Grant, as this will help provide the mentorship and guidance that I need to help bring ideas to the world, that will help positively impact and inspire others. I truly cannot wait to get going,” Munson said.

Reynoso is the head field hockey coach at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, New Jersey. Working within a district where financial constraints hinder student participation in club field hockey, she is driven to innovate. Her vision is to establish a club that eliminates practice fees, with only tournament costs covered through fundraising. This nonprofit endeavor aims to provide year-round access to field hockey, promoting youth development and community engagement. With the support of the Redwood Grant, her objectives include expanding outreach to underserved communities, acquiring equipment, organizing events, and covering essential expenses. Initiatives like after-school intramurals facilitate player recruitment, while partnerships with local colleges seek practice facilities.

“Gratitude is the sweetest victory dance. Thank you for believing in my vision and empowering me with this grant to make it a reality,” shared Reynoso.

Smeltz founded PA Revs All Starz in 2022. The program is a pioneering adaptive, disability-inclusive field hockey club offering opportunities from U10 to U19 levels. Since its inception, the club has grown significantly, expanding from 24 athletes to over 55, along with an equal number of buddies and coaches. The program runs multiple seasons annually, providing weekly practices and facilitating participation in events like the All Starz Showcase. Despite financial challenges, the club ensures low-cost access by covering equipment and membership expenses. As one of the few adaptive teams nationwide, PA Revolution actively advocates for inclusive sports, hosting college clinics and fostering partnerships to encourage the formation of similar programs. This grant will sustain and enhance the All Starz program, supporting athletes with disabilities while promoting broader accessibility to adaptive sports. The club’s strength lies not just in its structured seasons but in the enduring bonds formed among athletes, buddies, and coaches, fostering resilience and community. Mentorship from experienced field hockey organizers will further nurture the club’s growth and sustainability, ensuring continued efforts to minimize participation barriers for all athletes.

“The PA Revs All Starz Field Hockey Program is extremely honored to be a recipient of the NFHCA Redwood Grant. This grant reinforces the importance of growing the game of field hockey to an underserved population of athletes – athletes with disabilities. It is empowering to know that the NFHCA recognizes the value of our mission,” expressed Smeltz.

Each of the grantees will receive $2,500 from the NFHCA to support their work, along with waived registration fees to the 2025 Annual Convention. They will also participate in quarterly meetings and meet with their mentor throughout the year.

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

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 champion, strengthen, and celebrate field hockey coaches and the game. 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.