Full-time field hockey Olympians working part-time at Ecore
Shortly after the U.S. women's field hockey team finished its three-game sweep of Ireland on May 21, head coach Craig Parnham asked the 50 or so people celebrating in the team's offices at the Spooky Nook Sports complex in East Hempfield Township to raise their hands if they were American.
Hands shot up around the room.
“Keep your hands up if you're an American female,” Parnham ordered. And three-quarters of the room did.
“Keep your hands up if you're an America female who's been to the Olympic games for field hockey!” he hollered.
At that point, four hands remained in the air, and the room filled with applause.
Two with their hands still in the air were defender Lauren “Cranny” Crandall and midfielder Katie Reinprecht. Crandall, a Doylestown native, is actually a two-time Olympian, having served as captain of the U.S. team at the 2012 London games and having played with the 2008 squad in Beijing. Reinprecht, from Perkasie, was also on the 2012 team.
But these days, the friends have even more in common than star positions on the world's fifth-highest-ranked field hockey team — not to mention having a virtually guaranteed spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro: They're also co-workers at Ecore Athletic, the sports and fitness division of Lancaster-based flooring manufacturer Ecore International.
Testing and marketing
“We've worked part-time in the marketing department since 2013, primarily doing social media, but we also test the flooring and give the designers our feedback,” Crandall says, her hair still wet from a post-game shower. “For an athlete, two of the most important things in flooring are safety and longevity. The flooring has to provide the cushion to protect your joints and avoid fractures, which can also extend your playing career.”
She says she and Reinprecht frequently pitch Ecore's products to college coaches and trainers all over the country, not just in field hockey but in a variety of sports.
“Ecore thinks we have something to offer, so we're using our knowledge and experience while also getting the tools that we'll need to succeed in the business world after field hockey,” Crandall notes.
Reinprecht points out that training for the Olympics is a full-time, seven-day-a-week job, but they still manage to squeeze in about 15 hours per week at Ecore — sometimes running around on the flooring and doing workouts.
“They make us feel like our input is important, so it's pretty cool that we get to be so closely involved,” she says. “We've been pitching ideas and helping to create turf specs specifically for field hockey. The other day we were even testing how a ball bounces on a couple of samples that we had in the office.”
Asked about the wisdom of hiring Olympic athletes to provide input at Ecore, chairman and CEO Arthur Dodge III says, “Who better to work in your company than people who've been coached, trained, disciplined and motivated at a high level for their entire lives? You can't possibly ask for a better colleague.”
From Lancaster to Rio
Over the next two months, the team will compete for one of 12 slots at the 2016 Olympics. In fact, they're traveling this week to Valencia, Spain, for the Hockey World League Semifinals, where they'll compete against Germany, Ireland, Uruguay and South Africa. Next month they'll head to the Pan American Games in Toronto.
“Valencia is going to be a tough tournament, but I think the team is looking great,” Reinprecht says.
As for the team's chances of going to Rio, Crandall says, “If all goes according to plan and we play how I know we can play, then yeah, we should do it.”
Central Pennsylvania's team
At the May 21 post-game reception hosted by the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, chamber President Tom Baldrige called the team “one of the county's hidden gems.”
“When they're at the Olympics, all of Central Pennsylvania is going to be cheering them,” he says. “But we want them to be Central Pennsylvania's team even before they go to the Olympics. The more we can promote them, the more I think people can appreciate what it really means to our area.”
“This part of the country is a hotbed for field hockey players and talent, so it absolutely makes sense for us to be here,” Parnham added. “We're delighted to be in Lancaster County and make this the home of U.S. Women's Field Hockey.”
Crandall says the team is also trying to build a local fan base and get more people out to games.
“We're in Lancaster to stay, and we want people to get involved,” she says. “We want them to know we're cool, it's a really fast and fun game.”