Hurling a game for all seasons
For years now, American hurling has been largely based on the weather.
Here’s how the schedule usually ran:
- In the chilly, damp spring, city-based clubs around North America gathered up old members, drew in new recruits and start practices.
- By hot and humid summer, tournaments sprang up and travel teams dashed to nearby cities for games.
- In early fall, the best of the best gather to fight it out for the North American championship — typically in sweltering heat.
- As winter set in, clubs closed up shop. They might have a fund-raiser or two. They might throw a banquet, but in general, it was the off-season.
But that off-season is rapidly getting smaller and smaller.
Now some clubs are meeting for cold-weather outdoor games. A few pull together mid-break shape-up clinics. Others gather at indoor soccer fields for inter-club games in the dead of the winter.
And, in the last few years, there’s a growing hurling movement within the college/university system of America. Yes, hurling is branching out to college campuses across America, teams are forming and battling old rivals from other college sports.
Those college squads are using a fairly new organization, the National Collegiate Gaelic Athletic Association, to help them organize and be recognized by their university, get equipment and, of course, play games.
For example, the NCGAA, whose chairman is Eamonn Gormley (you know him, he’s the guy who created the “Fastest Game on Grass” video), offers some valuable advice on starting a collegiate club and really cool QR-code imbedded posters to help with recruiting.
Little by little, the NCGAA is making some headway. They now have three divisions — California, Midwest and Northeast — and they all hold regular matches throughout the the school year.
Most importantly, college-based hurling runs on a schedule that’s almost exactly opposite of city-based hurling. It begins in late summer and can last through May.
That means that many players — the college-age ones in particular — can basically be playing all year long between their college squad and those in their hometowns. They can hurl from the start of one school year, right through to the start of the next school year.
With that year-round schedule, hurling is now a game for every season — and more importantly it’s another step on its way to conquer North America.