Elzeth Hetzler has an insatiable passion for field hockey.

She plays it. Teaches it. Coaches it. And if she could, she would travel the world as a diplomat for the sport.

“I grew up in South Africa where field hockey is one of our three main sports, along with rugby and cricket,” Hetzler said. “Hockey in South Africa is like football in America.”

Hetzler is in her third season as the Cheyenne Mountain High School field hockey coach. She is working with a young group with no seniors among the 18 players in the program.

“Prior to Covid, we were working with the elementary schools to expose youth players to the sport,” Hetzler said. This way they will already be familiar with field hockey by the time they reach junior high and have playing experience by the time they reach the high school program.

Cheyenne Mountain’s team this season consists of juniors Taryn Taylor, Kristiana Klein, Kate Gassman, Hayley Hodges, Emma Steinbruner, Dori Peloso and Adelin Kimball; sophomores Katie Campbell, Ava Schroeder, Sierra Sadri, Virginia Waddington and Abby Irgens; and freshmen Opal O’Rourke, Nicole Jones, Imogen Melton, Alexandra Nelson, Kate Bussey and Colleen Nolan.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado High School Activities Assocation postponed the start of the field hockey season from last fall to this spring. Hetzler had few opportunities to work with her team. And since many of the players did not have very much field hockey experience, it has made this season even more of a challenge.

Cheyenne Mountain was held without a goal through its first four matches, losses to defending state champion Colorado Academy, Liberty and twice to perennial state power Palmer Ridge.

“Having to compete with programs that have so many more players to choose from has also been tough,” Hetzler said. “We’re still a developing program. We have just one school in our district. Many of the teams we play against choose players from several schools in their districts.”

Hetzler is as qualified as anyone in the Pikes Peak region to run a high-level program. She started playing field hockey in high school and moved up to the club level and provincially. Upon graduation, she was recruited to play for her South African club in the United Kingdom before eventually moving to the United States.

She and her husband, Doug, started the East Bay Field Hockey Association in San Ramon, Calif., focusing on youth. She also played on a local women’s club, and in 2017 she was selected to represent Masters Team USA on the National Indoor Woman’s team to play in the first-ever Masters Indoor World Cup in Krefeld, Germany.

She was selected for the Masters U.S. team again in 2019 at the second Masters Indoor World Cup in Hong Kong.

Hetzler has Level 2 coaching certification from U.S.A. Field Hockey and has coached three players onto the U.S.A. junior national team. She has also been a head coach for the Junior Olympics.

She and her husband moved to Woodland Park three years ago and within months started Hive Hockey Academy, designed foryouth players ages 8 through 18.

““I wanted to play, and I realized there was no place for the kids to play,” Hetzler said. “We worked with students at Columbine Elementary School (in Woodland Park) doing exposure pieces. By 2019, we had 33 signed up for our first season.”

The COVID-19 pandemic affected Hive like all other sports. The Hetzlers were forced to shut down operations last spring and were not permitted to get back onto the field until the late summer and fall.

“We were finally allowed to go to Meadow Wood Park and have small group sessions,” Elzeth said. “But we couldn’t have an indoor season because of the restrictions.

“We have a dozen or so kids in the program at this point.”

For more information on Hive, go to hivehockey.com, call 719-687-1182 or email Elzeth at coach-elzeth@hivehockey.com.

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