As the United States expands to 300 million people in 2006, the debate over boys on girls' field hockey teams in states such as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts rages on. Coaches give their thoughts:
Nancy Williams, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
"I introduced it into my phys-ed classes in the freshman and sophomore level, and the boys love it. I had this one boy who was weaving through my field hockey players! Now, I don't think that boys should be playing on girls' teams, but I would absolutely love to see the boys playing. That would be one way to generate more interest. Two things come out of my gym classes: 'I love this game,' and, 'It's hard!' And they have a whole new appreciation when they see the girls play."
Denise Rioux, Pinkerton Academy (R.I.) as told to The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune
"On the whole, girls can't compete against the strongest athletic males. If boys want to play field hockey they should get together and start their own team. Maybe I'm a little old-fashioned, but I don't support girls playing on boys teams either. I will say that I think it would be great if there were field hockey teams for boys. I've seen men's teams from England and Holland play. It is outstanding."
Shawn Hindy, Lehighton Area (Pa.) as told to The Easton Express-Times
"If guys want to play, we can find a way for them to play. I think it helps competition when guys play with girls, but the girls' field hockey team should be the girls' field hockey team."
Pat Toner, Holland Council Rock South (Pa.)
"If it didn't conflict with anything I was doing in other sports, I would coach a boys' varsity field hockey team in a heartbeat."
Carol Merchant, Salemn (N.H.) as told to The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune
"I'm not personally against boys playing on girls field hockey teams, but it's a rule in New Hampshire that boys can't play. I've seen and heard about boys playing in Massachusetts. It seems like most of the experiences have been good. But it would be ideal if there were teams for boys. I can understand the safety issue. Boys can be bigger and stronger. But I've played on club teams with men and it doesn't bother me."
Jody Sullivan, Haverhill (Mass.) as told to The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune
"Back when it was first allowed we had a boy who came out for the team. There was a prejudice in the league. He wasn't necessarily the best athlete. But he was by far the most aggressive and strongest. He definitely intimidated others. A few years back Wayland had three boys, one being a goalie, which is a huge benefit. He was a hockey goalie. The other two took over the field, and one actually went on to play men's professional. When he swung his stick, girls were intimidated. It would be ideal if there was a boys team. On the other side, as a coach, I don't want to deny anyone from playing."