By: Cass Jordan
SAN DIEGO -- More often than not coaches can come to be seen as the face of their respected programs. “Coach K” is synonymous with Duke, Bill Belichick continues to win with the Patriots and the Terrapins have had Missy Meharg-- all who have built a legacy unique to them. Players graduate, others get traded and most will eventually hang up their sport all-together, so it is no wonder the constant that remains with a coach is something to be valued.
Brian Schledorn has been that constant for RUSH Field Hockey amidst the club’s rise to national prominence in recent years. Since 2009, Schledorn took over program director and head coaching duties while gradually expanding training to welcome youth of all ages throughout Southern California. In an effort to better understand how he has done it, here is The Coach Behind the Program.
- Brian, first of all congratulations on your success with RUSH and No.3 national club ranking, according to USA Field Hockey. What does it mean to you to have put RUSH on the map in a sport predominantly associated with the East Coast?
Thank you! I am extremely proud of our program and teams who made this happen for us. Obtaining a top three spot means we developed a system that accomplished my short term and long term goals. Our program has been on a steep trajectory within the rankings. I really believe the early successes we had allowed us to continue to move forward. We knew RUSH needed to take a group and take them to the top before growing in size.
- You yourself were typically the youngest member on club and USA National teams growing up. How important was your own self-discovery and willingness to learn from mistakes at a young age?
RUSH Program Director Brian Schledorn (Right) playing for the USA Men's National Team.
Good question. Being the youngest was great for my development of hockey knowledge and tactics, but being the youngest trying to break into a national team, you need to find your way and develop your own skills independently. In competitive environments, people are not as helpful, but it motivated me to find my own way to perform skills. Concurrently, coaching at a young age let me test my progression with players I coached. If it worked for me and them, it was good.
- Looking at your coaching history, it is pretty extensive. You have coached USA Men's National teams, RUSH players; including current USA Junior National team members in addition to coaching at the NCAA Division I level. Having coached so many athletes and teams, what is your philosophy behind the attributes that make a best player and what makes a great team?
I believe it is so important to develop players who are unique to themselves; mentally, skillfully and emotionally. Then placing them in the correct positions within our system allows them to shine.
- Every player growing up is taught the same fundamental skills and game-play tactics as options. However, the “RUSH System” could more closely represent set plays with position movement and selective pass options. How does playing this “RUSH System” simplify the game for RUSH players, but make it so hard for teams to defend against?
The RUSH System involves all players on the field. During training we teach the components which prepares them to understand the complete team movement. Our pre-tournament preparation filters the information per position/line and clear achievable goals. I think the challenges for our opponents is we have many solutions to adjust into during a game. One big lesson in my early years was at a national showcase-- you play against many styles of play with the amount of teams at the tournament and you need to have solutions for each of them. Our style uncovers their weaknesses, and one of my jobs is to see the most favorable match ups and exploit.
- This “RUSH System,” why can't it be duplicated?
Well it can't be duplicated because it represents my field hockey journey as a player that many have influenced my vision of the game. My players inspire me daily and every group of players require adjustments for the system to function.
- You talk about your own personal journey as a player. How did a coach(es) accelerate your development throughout your career and influence your style today?
I have been fortunate to have worked with coaches from all over the world; German, Dutch, Australian, English, Indian, South Africa, Canadian and of course USA. Each of them gave me a different piece of the pie of my overall understanding. Each component simplified the game for me which allowed me to focus information of the game for my athletes. I guess my style is a bit of a melting pot of all styles, an American style.
- Your practices are known to be high tempo and shorter than typical practices. What is the reasoning behind this?
We train as if a session is a game. We build skills and concepts within each session, more importantly create an environment that mimics a game with information, competitions and pressure. Most of our girls are very busy, we also want to make sure we get the most out of each session to balance their lives.
- In contrast to many coaches, during games you are often seen quietly watching—sometimes even sitting instead of yelling out direction. Why is this?
Game time is for the athletes to play, most of our information has already been delivered. If I am vocal, it means we need reminders of our game plan. I also believe during competition my job is to observe the game as a whole to figure out solutions for second half. If you can identify behaviors of another team, you adjust to counter it.
- USA Field Hockey recently announced you as the Men’s USA Associate Head Coach after helping the team at the Pan American games last year. Congratulations!
Thank you! It is a great honor to represent the USA again. And to have the feeling of coming full circle within the program, kind of makes me feel old. I am thankful of Chris Clements and Rutger Wiese for giving me this opportunity! It has already been a great learning experience that has helped again to evolve RUSH's style of play.
- When RUSH players leave to play in college, do you have goals for them? If so, what if anything do you want them to remember from their time with RUSH?
My current goal is to mentor impact players for all divisions of college hockey. But it depends on the individual and their goals. I am extremely proud of everyone who has been given the opportunity to compete in college. I hope they remember we pushed them to the highest level in their time with us while creating a winning culture and igniting them for the next step in their hockey career. And Hockey is fun!
On behalf of the RUSH Field Hockey, we would like to say thank you and good luck to Molly Cassidy.
In her year and a half time at RUSH Field Hockey, she is been a huge contributor in RUSH's recent successes with her coaching, mentoring and organization. She has expanded our RUSH community with her informative newsletters and social media posts; sharing our day to day travels to all, college commitments and special tributes.
Her selfless energy has brought so much to every training session and competition, allowing RUSH to expand to three competitive age groups. Our GKs have benefited from her knowledge and are prepared for the next level.
We are so fortunate for all that she brought to the RUSH Field Hockey Organization, but mostly she was a great friend to all. We wish you all the best in your new adventure. You will be missed!
Luckily, Molly will continue to remotely oversee our website and social media. Go RUSH!
SAN DIEGO -- RUSH Field Hockey's success is beginning to look more routine than a competition to be had. To outsiders the pattern might look like: RUSH competes at a showcase, RUSH wins gold, and RUSH rises in yet another USA Field Hockey club ranking poll. However, ask any RUSH player and they would say it is so much easier written than done.
In the month of March and high school off season for field hockey, the success of RUSH can be seen for what it really is: a gradual climb built on RUSH training sessions and their indoor league while providing and supporting opportunities for game play.
COMPETITIONS: In back-to-back weekends, RUSH made the trip up to the Bay Area to participate in spring clinics hosted at Cal Berkeley and UC Davis. RUSH players from Under-14 to Under-19 age groups competed in multiple 6v6 & 7v7 games after a short introductory clinic to begin each weekend. Teams from all over the state compete to win their pool with games typically only 15-minutes long. The annual clinics also provide players the chance to see a California field hockey college, and interact and be seen by their coaching staff. RUSH will participate in the annual Stanford Field Hockey Clinic coming in April.
RUSH TRAINING SESSIONS: Spring Training sessions for U15-U19 will begin Thursday, March 31st at 4S Ranch Sport Park. This training block will focus on: goal scoring, circle play, and special skills. All Sessions will end with game play and hockey fitness. Sessions are 90 mins., from 4:30-6:30pm on the outdoor enclosed courts. For membership click here. Once you have your membership you can register here.
For RUSH Elite Performance Group members, the Elite Spring Training is also now open. For more information click here.
RUSH SPRING LEAGUE: RUSH Spring League is an indoor field hockey league played at Kit Carson Sport Center on the covered roller rink in a 5v5 format. This league differs from winter league in a few ways: Each player will be assigned to a team and teams will be coached by RUSH coaches. Players will be placed on a team in either Division 1 or Division 2 based on the athlete's most recent high school season. Each game will consist of three 12-minute periods. The court is surrounded by boards on all sides to keep the ball continuously in play. No penalty corners. Be on the lookout for POGO League for Under-14 boys and girls this summer. For more information click here.
RANKINGS UPDATE: The RUSH Field Hockey Under-19 team jumps one spot to No. 5 in the USA Field Hockey National Club Rankings poll as released earlier this month. With 407.50 points, RUSH earned their latest ranking after winning their pool at the first annual Presidents' Day Showcase in February. The next highest ranking California club is Quicksilver Cats (No. 58) with 87.50 points.
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The RUSH under-19 team rises five spots to No. 8 in the USA Field Hockey national club rankings, as released earlier this week. With 320 points, RUSH is the highest-ranking club not just in California, but west of the Mississippi.
Rankings are based on performances from 2013 to present at five different USA Field Hockey sanctioned events. Those events, which vary in the number of points possible, include: Festival (100), Disney Showcase (120), Regional Club Championships (40-65), the National Club Championships (200), and the newly added Club Challenge (40).
The rise in rankings comes after RUSH captured the 2015 Regional Club Championship in Missouri earlier this year. The tournament win garnered RUSH 40 points and an automatic bid to the National Club Championship in which they were unable to attend.
However, the rankings are not quite as black and white as they seem.
RUSH’s total in points are without four point-based tournaments in which RUSH did not participate. No other team in the top 10 is missing as many:
2014 Regional Club Championship and National Club Championship
2015 National Club Championship and Club Challenge (new this year)
To put it into perspective, RUSH is just 12 points shy of jumping one spot, to No. 7, in the rankings. The National Club Championship awards teams a minimum 50 points just for participating. At that amount, RUSH could have been as high as No. 5—and that is just one tournament.
As RUSH continues to grow, especially in recent years, it the organization’s priority to make an effort to attend all USA sanctioned recruiting and point-based tournaments.
For more information on rankings you can click here.
TORONTO -- This summer RUSH Program Director Brian Schledorn assisted the USA Men's National Field Hockey team at the Pan American Games in an effort to qualify for next year's Olympics.
The event held in Canada this July drew close to 7,000 athletes from all across the Americas and Caribbean to compete in the world's third largest multi-sport event.
On foreign soil and sporting red, white and blue, Schledorn's efforts have landed him in this position many times before. This time now coaching the team he once suited up to play for.
Schledorn's tenure on the USA National Men’s team as a crucial part of the backfield included playing in two Pan Am Games and training for three Olympic Games. In 1996, he was also an alternate to the Atlanta Olympics.
Schledorn and other nationally renowned coaches were selected by USA Field Hockey Head Coach Chris Clements for the event. For close to two weeks, Schledorn scouted competing teams, conducted video analysis, and helped prepare the team for a grueling schedule.
Despite losing just one match and missing Olympic qualification, the USA is primed with growing talent. Of the eight field hockey teams who participated, the USA roster was by far the youngest all around team.
The USA tied Cuba and Brazil and took home wins over Trinidad & Tobago as well as Mexico.
(Left to Right) Brynn Zorilla & Megan Rodgers were both selected to the USA U17 Team
LANCASTER, Pa. -- Two RUSH Field Hockey players have been selected to USA's Under-17 National Team, according to USA Field Hockey.
Megan Rodgers and Brynn Zorilla, both RUSH Elite Performance Group members, were selected to the 26-player roster after tryouts concluded today at USA Field Hockey's premier U-21 Junior National Camp held July 5-8 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The girls are among just five players from west of the Mississippi selected to either the Under-17, Under-19, and Under-21 team. A U-17 teammate from northern California, is the only other player selected from the west coast.
The U-21 Junior National Camp hosted 110 athletes selected from the total 680 field hockey players who attended this year’s Young Women’s National Championship, National Futures Championship and Futures Elite Championship.
For more information on the selections click HERE.
LANCASTER, Pa. -- Seven RUSH players were selected as invitees to the 2015 AAU Junior Olympics, with two players earning additional selection to the Under-21 Junior National Camp, according to USA Field Hockey.
RUSH's Brynn Zorilla eliminates a defender inside the Spooky Nook at the 2015 U-16 National Futures Championship held in June. Photo Credit: Mark Palczewski
RUSH's Ally Bailey, Summer Borsack, Kathryn Peterson, Megan Rodgers, Meghan Schneider, Madison Theodore and Brynn Zorilla are among the top 130 under-16 field hockey players in the country selected to compete at the Junior Olympic Games to be held Aug. 4-8 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Athletes' selections were based on their performances at USA Field Hockey's annual National Futures Championship hosted June 23-July 2 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The AAU Junior Olympic Games are the largest national multi-sport event in the U.S., according to the organization website, with 16,000 participants in more than 20 sports.
RUSH's Megan Rodgers and Brynn Zorilla earned additional selection to USA Field Hockey's premier Under-21 Junior National Camp. The event is comprised of the top 110 athletes selected from the total 680 field hockey players who attended this year's Young Women's National Championship, National Futures Championship and Futures Elite Championship.
Megan and Brynn, both under-16 athletes, will take part in the camp July 5-8 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with the opportunity to be selected to USA Field Hockey's Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 Junior National Teams.
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FENTON, Mo. --The RUSH under-19 field hockey team swept the 2015 Regional Club Championship tournament securing their automatic bid to nationals in July. This win marks a tremendous milestone for not just the club, but west coast field hockey who has never laid claim to the crown before.
Taking their game to Missouri June 6-7 , the San Diego based RUSH under-19 team defeated the No. 8 Aim field hockey club (4-0) in the finals to complete a six game sweep. The win also notched their fifth shutout of the tournament. As the top two finishers, RUSH and Aim bested eight other teams to automatically qualify for the National Club Championship held next month in Pennsylvania.
The regional win could add 45 points* to RUSH's national club ranking total in which they are currently ranked No. 13.
Unfortunately, RUSH will be unable to attend the National Club Championship due to logistical reasons, but are nonetheless excited about how they showcased.
Playing six games in two days, RUSH tallied 14 goals out-shooting their opponents in every half of every game. On the defense, RUSH allowed just one goal that came from a penalty stroke opportunity.
In the final showdown and their fourth game of the day, RUSH's Megan Rodgers notched the first goal of the game and added the last. Gabi Jimenez and Kathryn Peterson each tacked on a goal to ensure the win.
Earlier in the day, RUSH defeated Windy City (3-1) in a semifinal shootout after RUSH dominated a majority of the game in regulation. RUSH's Nina Randolph, Jimenez and Rodgers each tallied a goal to complement RUSH goalkeeper Chelsea Bigelow, who came up with three saves.
In their first two games that day RUSH blanked each opponent with just one goal. RUSH defeated Pinnacle (1-0) with a Jimenez to Rodgers goal and walked away with the win against Milwaukee (1-0) with less than 20 seconds left in the game. Jimenez dribbled into the attacking 25 delivering a hit across the circle to Peyton Mowery
. With a cross-cage deflection, the tipped ball found Rodgers, who knocked in the game winner.
On day one of the tournament, RUSH defeated Stealth (4-0) with three first half goals. Sisters Meghan and Katie Schneider each scored a goal with helper goals from Jimenez and Rodgers for their first win. Bigelow would make her tournament high of three saves on the game. RUSH would go on to defeat FH Life (1-0) later that day with a late second half goal by Rodgers thanks to a Jimenez ball drilled from the top of the circle.
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MOORPARK, Calif. -- The RUSH under-19 team capped off the 2015 California Cup tournament with silver medals in a championship style showdown.
RUSH under-19 took home second place honors against Short Corners (Serra H.S) who captured the W in penalty strokes.
For the second year in a row, RUSH under-19 faced Short Corners in the championship finale. Slightly bittersweet, nearly half of the Short Corners are current RUSH Training members and a majority are RUSH Elite Performance Group members. Four of their five penalty strikers are RUSH training members as well.
RUSH notched three penalty strokes to Short Corners' four after the teams tied (1-1) in regulation. In the highly intense game, RUSH under-19 scored their lone goal against the Short Corners' defense who had not given up a goal all tournament. Short Corners responded with a goal of their own after a scramble in front of the net.
Earlier that Memorial Day, RUSH under-19 defeated two teams en route to the final outscoring their opponents five goals to one. The tournament total: 26 goals scored and just five against.
Last year, the outcome between the two teams was reversed. In 2014, RUSH defeated Short Corners in penalty strokes for the under-19 Cal Cup crown.
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The RUSH'd Supers team finished in 7th place at the 2015 California Cup tournament when their fate was also decided in penalty strokes.
Playing against a veteran Olympic Club field hockey team, a young RUSH'd responded to an early first half goal deficit. With just minutes left in the game, a great build up opportunity found RUSH'd's Gabi Jimenez, who grabbed a rebound off the goalkeeper to notch the equalizer and her first goal of the tournament.
With a (1-1) score in regulation, RUSH'd and OCFH selected their five penalty strokers and each put their own Big Ten Conference goalkeeper alums in the cage.
On the offense, RUSH'd's Crystal Poland, scored the lone penalty stroke with a zinger through the goalkeeper's legs. The OCFH goalkeeper and Indiana alum, batted away RUSH'd's four other attempts.
On the defense, RUSH'd and Michigan State goalkeeper alum Molly Cassidy, missed the first penalty stroke low and to her right side. She responded with three sticks saves as an additional shot soared high and wide to tie the round at one a piece.
In sudden death, Cassidy dove to make a fourth stick save putting Poland back on the p-spot to win it. The Northeastern alum flung her shot mid-height past the goalkeeper's stick side to seal the team's first victory of the tournament.
In an effort to develop RUSH players and alums at the highest level possible, RUSH prides themselves on entering young talent in the Supers Division. RUSH'd was made up of: (3) high school juniors (5) high school seniors (4) Cal Berkeley freshmen. (2) Cornell University freshmen. (1) UC Davis freshmen. (2) college alums.