Wednesday, April 17th, 2024
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National Championship Coming to Millersville

What’s it take to put on a national championship?

Not many people have to think about locker rooms the way Peg Kauffman, associate director of athletics at Millersville, has to think about them. What color should they be? How long will it take to get one team out and another team in?

These are the questions that have to be answered as Millersville University (MU) prepares to host the NCAA Division II national semifinals and final from Nov. 22 – 24 at Biemesderfer Stadium.

“I feel like we’re on top of things,” Kauffman said. “At this stage, we’re focusing on little things.”

Millersville presented its bid to the NCAA in 2016 at the encouragement of Shelly Behrens, head coach of the Marauders field hockey program since 2008. The University not only received the 2019 bid, but will host again in 2021.

Millersville University’s Field Hockey Team – National Champions in 2014.
Millersville field hockey player.

The competition will be the main event, but Millersville has plans for the athletes beginning the day before the semifinals. The four teams will be hosted at the Ware Center for a banquet. The banquet will have food, highlight packages of the teams and a Millersville student playing piano. The national championship trophy will also be on display, along with watches that will be given to the champions, an NCAA tradition.

“I think we create a great atmosphere for all of our sports,” Kauffman said. “For those who haven’t been to field hockey games, they’re really exciting. I think coming to Millersville, with what we have planned for spectators, will be a championship experience.

Kauffman is leading the effort on logistics, from helping plan hotel accommodations for teams and referees to sign placement on campus. Details big and small start with her.

Donna Bazow, administrative assistant in the athletic department, is playing a crucial role helping Kauffman while also handling merchandise and the organization aspects of the event. For example, Bazow met with student leaders to plan what type of giveaway students should get if they come to the games.

Bazow’s office is stacked with boxes of trophies, t-shirts, water bottles and other merchandise. Her email inbox is full of vendors planning the type of food that will be served at the banquet and event.

“We’ve had meetings all year to plan for this,” she said. “It’ll be cool when it’s over. There’s so much work logistically to prepare for it.”

Ethan Hulsey, director of athletic communications at MU, is one of several staff members hard at work preparing for the big weekend.

“It’s a big-game feel,” he said. “There’s not too many places where you get to work an event where there’s going to be media, a full broadcast, press conferences afterwards and someone gets to lift up a trophy, put on a hat and wear a national championship t-shirt. It’s going to have that big feel to it.”

Hulsey is handling credential requests, working with Turner Sports for streaming, hiring a photographer, pitching stories to local media, creating a micro-website, working with local tourism companies, creating flyers and email blasts, connecting with local high school and youth sport coaches and buying marketing time on local television and radio stations.

A staff of around 10 student workers and graduate assistants will also assist Hulsey with game-day operations relating to sport communication. Even more will help with event management. Working on the biggest stage is a valuable experience for students interested in the sports field as professionals.

“For kids working the event, it’s maybe a little added pressure for them too, but I think it’ll be a great learning experience,” Hulsey said.

It’s fitting for Millersville to host the Division II championship because of the community’s connection to field hockey. The Marauders have one of the strongest programs in the country while playing in the toughest conference at the Division II level. Lancaster is also home to the United States women’s national team, which is based out of the Spooky Nook Sports complex. The complex will host the Division III national championship tournament the same weekend as Millersville.

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