Keener selected to play for U.S. team in Australia
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
When the Temple University field hockey team dropped a tough 1-0 loss to Richmond in the Atlantic-10 Conference finals early last November, senior Becca Keener thought that she had played her final game.
That was not the case, however.
Shortly before the new year, the 2008 Warwick High School grad was selected by USA Athletes International to play in Australia from June 5-17. USA Athletes International, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving amateur athletes and coaches the opportunity to participate in international Olympic-style sporting events throughout the world.
"I was retired for about two weeks," Keener laughed.
According to the USAAI website, athletes are nominated on recommendations from coaches, athletes and athletics professionals. It further states that USAAI athletes are a select group of elite athletes that represent their team, schools, country and USAAI while overseas and who have demonstrated class, integrity, and the character of a true athlete.
During her four-year career at Temple, Keener was a two-time Atlantic-10 selection. In 2010, she was named to the A-10 All-Tournament Team and the President’s Honor Roll for a second straight year, in addition to being the co-recipient of the Lady Owls’ Most Valuable Defensive Player Award.
"I was (surprised to be selected by USAAI)," said Keener, who started in all 43 games for Temple the past two seasons in addition to appearing in all 21 games for the Lady Owls in her sophomore campaign. "I’ve been invited to play in other things in the past, but nothing this big and exciting. I was really excited to hear about it."
Her past opportunities included competing in the USFHA National Championships in Virginia Beach, Va. in June, 2010. She was a member of the New Jersey Junior High Performance Center Travel Squad in the round-robin tournament.
Getting to Virginia Beach, though, was a bit easier than trying to fund a trip to Australia. So Keener is hoping to receive donations to help offset the $5,000 expense.
"For field hockey, there’s not as many opportunities as for other sports to pay for it," she said. "I’m just trying to come up with the means myself and through the generosity of field hockey lovers and my friends and family."
After arriving in Australia, the USAAI team will have two days of practice, in addition to taking in some of the culture there. Prior to leaving, however, Keener plans to work out with the Temple University field hockey team.
"I think most people will be practicing with their school team during the week a few times," Keener said. "I’m going to train with (Temple) even though seniors don’t train with their team once they’re done. But I’m going to train with them just so I keep my skills on point. I’ll have to run a lot probably."
Following their practices in Australia, the USAAI team will play games for three days, culminating with crossovers and the championship games. After that, the players will have the opportunity the meet competitors from other teams and see more of Australia.
The tournament is intended to foster international goodwill and friendship among nations and promote the sport of field hockey.
"I just hope people know English so I can talk to everyone. I know some Spanish, but that’s about it," Keener laughed. "It will probably be a really neat experience."
If anyone is interested in donating to Keener, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. More KEENER, page B-6