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Field Hockey: Former Penn State standout hopes to build sport in Western Pa.

Written by Joe Koch on .

Mallory Federoff was hoping to maintain contact with the sport that earned her All-American honors at Penn State when she got married and relocated to Western Pennsylvania with her husband.

She coached at Lock Haven University for seven seasons, but her husband's job was in the Pittsburgh area, so she needed to find a way to stay connected with the game that she loved and excelled at, earning All-America honors at Penn State in 2007.

That's when she came up with Upswing Clinics, which actually began this past February, but she couldn't fully implement the program's goals because of the rules that apply to coaches at NCAA institutions.

"I still wanted to be involved in the sport as a coach, so I started my own business to maintain contact with the game," she said. "As a college coach you are limited as to what you can do with a student-athlete. When I knew I wasn't going to be a college coach any more, I had the freedom to interact as a coach and travel without violating any NCAA regulations."

Federoff, who grew up as Mallory Weisen, had a storied career at Middleburg High School where she scored 94 goals and had 60 assists. A two-time high school All-American, Federoff also earned All-American honors at Penn State where she played on the 2007 Nittany Lions team that was the NCAA Division 1 runner-up.

Starting this business is the next step for the energetic Federoff, who would like to increase the sport's presence in Western Pennsylvania.

"There's a lot of really athletic girls [in western Pennsylvania]," she said. "There's a lot of potential, and it's raw. They are super athletic, and they love what they are doing. I think they are not exposed to the sport as the girls from Lancaster and Philadelphia. I think that's why they are at that level."

Four WPIAL teams -- Fox Chapel and Pine-Richland in 3A, Penn-Trafford in 2A and The Ellis School in 1A -- all qualified for the PIAA tournament. But all four teams lost in first-round games last week.

"The athletes are here, but they need a little more guidance and structure," Federoff said. "There are two clubs here, and I think that's great. But compared to the eastern part of the state, they are not exposed to the sport like those kids are. I want to give them more instruction and more playing opportunities with my coaching friends coming out here and providing more instruction."

Upswing Clinics is offering two venues for what she terms the Academy Program. Ten sessions will be offered at each venue, with one taking place at the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena in Cheswick and the other at Cool Springs Sports Complex in Bethel Park. The North-area clinic -- which will have weekly clinics on Mondays in December, January and February -- has filled all of its spaces. The South-area clinic is offering sessions on Wednesdays and is spacing its sessions over a 10-week period in December, January, February and March.

Nine goalkeeping clinics also will be offered at each venue. Full details may be found at the web site www.upswingclinics.com.

Federoff hopes to increase the sport's presence not only in the region's high schools but also in area colleges.

"Not as many colleges have field hockey out here [as is the case in eastern Pa.]," she said. "You can find a lot of schools that have field hockey within 10 miles [in Eastern Pa.]. When I was at Lock Haven, we played Robert Morris [which has dropped field hockey]. Robert Morris wasn't a top Division 1 team, but they still had it. But with the success of the U.S. Olympic team [at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro], it's going to bring people into the game. We had a good showing at the Olympics. The potential is here, and the athletes are here. They just need more guidance. They are super-athletic, but they are raw. They are just not exposed to the sport like they are in the Eastern part of the state or other states along with Eastern seaboard."

Federoff has plenty of coaches who have offered to help with her clinics. They include Villanova goalie coach Kelly Driscoll Broadway, Bucknell coach Hannah Allision, former national team member Jamie Whitten Montgomery, LaSalle coasch Kristina Foster, former Harvard assistant and three-time All America Jen Long and goalie coach Lina Trucco, who played at Ohio University.

She hopes some of the coaches can come in and help with the academy program over the winter months, but she's also looking to conduct some regional clinics in the spring and summer months.

"That's when my college coaches can come when school is out," she said. "They can come up for a weekend. I'd like to have two hours of instruction and two hours of game play with the coaches there to supervise them. And there's the potential for these players to be recruited [by a college]. But it's also a chance for [the players] to be instructed by college coaches. So, I'm looking for somewhere in mid-June where my friends can come up and have a regional clinic for Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. They can get exposed to the college coaches and help to grow the game in the western part of the state."

Realizing that she walked away from a good job coaching college field hockey at Lock Haven, Federoff want to make this endeavor work because of her devotion to the sport.

"This is a business that I created because I enjoy field hockey," she said. "I'm not looking to make millions of dollars off of it. I enjoy coaching, and I feel that as more people come to my clinics, it's going to spark interest in other people. I want to [build] the game and help people that are interested in [becoming better field hockey players]."