Four locals to compete nationally Standouts target Olympic Festival or Junior Olympics Field hockey

June 22, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

All-Metro field hockey stars Peggy Boutilier, Julie Jakum, Lauren Volk and Kelly Naylor rank among the best locally, but next weekend they will discover how they compare to the nation's best high school players.

At the United States Field Hockey Association's Futures National Tournament in Boston, the four will compete for spots in the Olympic Festival in San Antonio, July 22-29, or the Amateur Athletic Union's Junior Olympics in Knoxville, Tenn., Aug. 1-7.

Those attending the Olympic Festival will join another Baltimore star -- Tricia Burdt, last fall's All-Metro Field Hockey Player of the Year. Although Burdt, a Mount Airy resident and St. Paul's graduate, will compete in Boston, too, she already has been chosen for San Antonio.

The most experienced of the group, Burdt is a three-time Junior Olympian who attended the USFHA's A Camp, the highest level of its Olympic-development style Futures Program. The national team is chosen from a selected pool within the A Camp.

In addition to berths in Knoxville or San Antonio, Boutilier, Jakum, Volk and Naylor will compete for invitations to the USFHA's B Camp. However, it is also possible that a few players in the tournament could be selected for the A Camp.

After playing one weekend each month from January through May at the University of Maryland, the local girls were chosen last weekend for the 14-member 18-and-under team to go to Boston.

Coaches selected 28 girls for 15-under and 18-under teams from nearly 200 Futures players in the Chesapeake region, which includes Maryland, Delaware and Georgetown, said Steve Simpson, coach of the 18-and-under team.

The Futures Program gives the girls a chance to elevate their games beyond the traditional level of high school play. Not only is the game faster on the artificial turf, but also the skill level is higher.

"For us, playing hockey is much different than playing hockey at high school," said Simpson, who also runs a club team, the

Washington Wolves, on which Burdt, Boutilier and Volk play.

"The game is much faster and we pass the ball way backward. It's much more like a good style of soccer than any hockey you're used to seeing in high school."

"Everyone knows the game a lot better," said Boutilier, who led Roland Park to a third straight Association of Independent Schools title last fall. "We push the ball backward a lot more to switch fields rather than trying to go forward all the time, and we work on game tactics. It just goes another step above the high school level."

Each of the players has seen her game improve with Futures involvement. Jakum, a three-year Futures veteran who made a 15-and-under Junior Olympic team in her first season, always has believed playing with better players improves her play.

"If I'm playing with the best players, I know my game is going to improve. I love watching a higher level of play, because it teaches you so much," said Jakum, a C. Milton Wright graduate and the Harford County Player of the Year last fall.

Jakum, headed for Virginia, and Burdt, who received a full scholarship to Maryland, are the only high school graduates among the five. Boutilier, Volk (Loch Raven) and Naylor (Oakland Mills) will be seniors in the fall.

Against better competition, Futures players have to be able to think and react more quickly -- perhaps none more than Naylor, the goalkeeper.

"On shots, control of the ball is so much better," said Naylor, a Columbia resident who started playing ice hockey at 7 although she didn't volunteer for the goal cage until her freshman year.

"In high school, people really can't lift the ball that well -- it's very much heads-down kind of play. People don't really think about where they're going to shoot the ball. Here, it's heads-up play; people look to place their shots. They can put the ball in the upper corner of the cage, so you have to strive to make fewer mistakes."

Volk, a Futures rookie, emerged with a better sense of the game as a whole.

"I don't just go to goal anymore," said Volk, who led the metro area in scoring last fall with 26 goals and five assists. "I look for the open player. I'm more aware of other people on the field.

That will definitely help me when I get back to Loch Raven."

Last year, Simpson's 18-and-under team finished 9-1-1, a stellar record for a Chesapeake team.

"That was sort of a rarity, because hockey around here is not as good as it is in New Jersey or around Philadelphia," said Simpson, 34, a former member of the men's junior national team. "But we take very seriously that we do well for ourselves -- not necessarily that we win, but that we play good hockey."

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