Burnett looks to compete in South Africa


Maximus McGrath, Sports Editor

This previously ran in our December 2022 print issue.

Abby Burnett advanced to the USA Indoor Field Hockey National team last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic cut her time on the team short prior to competing in international competition. As Burnett enters this round of tryouts, she seeks to retain a roster spot heading into the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup in Pretoria, South Africa.

Burnett first picked up a field hockey stick when she entered first grade at Macungie Elementary School while playing for the Lower Macungie Youth Association (LMYA). In her youth, Burnett was coached by former Emmaus field hockey players at LMYA, Burnett soon advanced to nationally recognized clubs including Firestyx, coached by Sue Butz-Stavin, and then WC Eagles.

“Coach Sue helped develop my foundational skills to get the basics down and once those basics were down,” Burnett said. “I went to WC [Eagles] and that’s where I learned a lot of my higher level skills and higher level playing tactics.”

The FIH Indoor World Cup will be held in Pretoria, South Africa from Feb. 5-11 in 2023. This is only after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the event to be canceled prior to teams making their way to Belgium. Burnett is accustomed to the level of the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team as this is not her first experience in the process.

“Last year I tried out in March and made the [developmental] team,” Burnett said. “I got asked to be moved up to the national team right before the World Cup. Then I had a few training sessions before they came out with the travel roster, and I made the travel roster. About three weeks before we were supposed to leave for Belgium to play in the World Cup, it got canceled because of COVID-19, so I never got the chance to play.”

Even with the tournament far off in the future, preparation and key decisions start now as the rosters are assembled. Training camps and the tryout process are grueling as each player competes for the limited number of spots on the roster that will travel.

“Training camp starts over Christmas break,” Burnett said. “After they make the team, we have a training game against Australia, who’s coming [to the United States], and after that, they will finalize the team.”

The coaches that have mentored and developed Burnett since the beginning of her career carry much of the credit to her success, but her coaches now have taken her talents to the next level.

“My club coaches Jun [Kentwell] and Richard [Kentwell],” Burnett said. “Jun is the US Women’s Indoor [Field Hockey] coach. She pushes me a little harder than everybody else at club practice because she knows the things that I have to work on and things that I have to do to make the national team, so she definitely motivates me a lot. The same with Richard, he’s the manager of the indoor team. But definitely, a lot of things go to Coach Sue because she developed all the basics that I need to be where I am today.”

Burnett’s path to competing against players from all around the nation was not as linear as she would have liked, but the experiences may have taught her more.

“I made the under-16 outdoor national team my freshman year,” Burnett said. “Last year I didn’t make the under-19 outdoor team at all, I didn’t even make training camp or anything. Everyone that I normally play with was playing, but I did not make the team. That was probably my biggest setback and it taught me definitely some valuable lessons that I hope I will put to use and make this team.”

Burnett holds a bright future in front of her as she awaits her journey playing at the University of Michigan while also competing for a spot on this year’s FIH Indoor World Cup team for the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team.