As the United States field hockey community comes to grips with its place in the world -- having qualified for the Olympics as a non-host exactly twice since 1932 -- it can be useful to look outside of our borders for competition.

Ever since 1994, when a select group of New Jersey high-school athletes represented the nation at the Valkenswaard Easter Hockey Tournament, younger and younger players in the United States have been exposed to various international competition. Much of that competition seems to have come to the fore in 2004.

* We looked at the impact of foreign players in NCAA field hockey in 1999.

* Durham University head coach Gavin Featherstone has seen the faults of the American and English systems of elite player development.

* St. Mary's School of Johannesburg, South Africa, came to the United States on a two-week tour during 2004.

* The University of Calgary had to find competition once it became known that two more Canadian university teams folded before the 2004 season.

* Carey Fetting-Smith spent a semester playing for a Barcelona field hockey club, and the University of North Carolina is reaping the benefits.

* Three select United States U-19 teams beat their British Columbia counterparts in a warmup event for the 2005 Champions' Challenge.

* Alumnae of the inaugural 1994 United States U-16 team have had varying degrees of success on the hockey pitch.

* Buffalo Nichols School (N.Y.) plays a Canadian provincial schedule.

* LOOKING FOR LEBRON: An Independent Radio Project (Click here to listen or click here to download into your mp3 player).

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