High school sports championships should be focused on the student-athlete: opinion

When you’re highlighting the best high school players in their respective sport and trying to create unforgettable memories for them, details matter.

Cumberland Valley did an outstanding job hosting the PIAA field hockey championship games. According to the PIAA, there were 2,988 tickets sold.

As is true with anything new, things can and will go wrong. And there were a few things that did go wrong at the one-day 2022 PIAA championships held on Saturday, Nov. 19.

There were incorrect announcements made. And a sexually explicit lyric, a song by the late rapper DMX, was blasted for all to hear.

Outside of those two areas, where improvements can be made, the day was otherwise catered toward the growth and support of female student-athletes.  

The scoreboard has a big screen, where a video of each program’s team was played before the games.

Boiling Springs won the PIAA Class 1A championship and was played at 11 a.m. Mechanicsburg won the PIAA Class 2A championship and was played at 1 p.m. And Lower Dauphin won the PIAA Class 3A championship and was played at 3 p.m.

The music behind the video was a female cover of Phil Collins’, “In the Air Tonight,’ which was a special touch.

Teams were accommodated with newer locker rooms, where they weren’t rushed in and out. Players and coaches were afforded time to use indoor turf to try to get rid of game-time nerves.

A handful of Cumberland Valley field hockey players told us at FAN that the lights had special features. When the sun went down, we were able to see what they meant.

When Lower Dauphin’s Avery Pollock scored the game-winner in overtime, the lights flickered. And, then there was a soft blue hue as the Falcons were crowned champs.

The party atmosphere is wonderful for the players. One side note for future consideration is to make sure attendees are aware the lights flicker in case a spectator manages neurological issues, which could be triggered by the strobe-lights.

The field hockey championships have been held at Whitehall for the past 13 years. In that time, traveling to the District 11 school was a hike for most programs. District 11 is regionally in Pennsylvania’s northeast.

Of the six teams that played in the championships this year, five of them were from District 3. Of those teams, four of them were from the Mid-Penn Conference.

While central Pennsylvania is saturated with many high-level, talented coaches and players, it’s still anybody’s game or year to win the field hockey championship, especially in Pennsylvania.

There are many competitive options to develop skills during the off-season. And coaches can build schedules during the season to compete against schools that aren’t in their conference.

It’s undeniable that District 3 and more specifically, the Mid-Penn Conference, is going to always produce quality field hockey players.

But trying to remain objective outside of where the talent resides, Cumberland Valley is a centralized location with modernized amenities. Additionally, the workers who scanned tickets, showed guests around, and helped to answer questions were fun to talk to and friendly.

In its first year out of the four-year contract to host the championships, Cumberland Valley and the PIAA created memories not only for the athletes, but also for many others who were at the championships.

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