LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The sport of field hockey in Kentucky has been growing in stature over the years. Club teams have had some national success, and area high schools produce multiple Division I and Division II players to colleges every year. Now, it's gotten another boost.
Lee Ann Gordon, a junior at Assumption High School, and Claudia Thomas, a sophomore from Christian Academy of Louisville, returned a couple of weeks ago from a trip to Cologne, Germany, where they played for USA Field Hockey in the three nations tour. A process that begins with over two-hundred top players from around the country was whittled down to the top 30. And from there, Gordon and Thomas were among the eighteen players chosen to travel overseas. They are the first players from Kentucky to make the USA Field Hockey U17 travel squad.
"I got chills," Thomas said of being one of the 18. "I wasn't expecting it at all. There's so many of us when you get to that age, nobody's bad."
"Everyone at that level loves it so much," Gordon added. "It's just so competitive, so I think we always get a lot out of training camp, and it's a really good learning opportunity to get better and improve and push yourself together."
The team lost two of three games during the April week in Cologne.
"It's definitely the next level up from anything we've experienced before, but it's another great learning experience," Gordon said. "They do have different styles of play in Germany and Belgium. That helps us grow as we think about the process."
Gordon and Thomas have played together on various teams for about five years with the IFHCK Club in Louisville. But they compete against each other in the fall. They have the rare distinction of having each scored state title winning goals as freshmen for their high school teams. Gordon did it to win the 2016 championship for Assumption off a penalty corner. Thomas scored a second half goal that stood up for a 1-0 win for Christian Academy over Assumption in 2017.
They will change from teammates to rivals again this fall.
"We've always been good teammates with each other and love playing together, but when it comes to high school, we're not ready to give each other any mercy," Thomas said with a laugh.
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