Honesdale's 17th annual field hockey event attracts teams from all over the Commonwealth
Becca Maciejewski plopped down next to me on the bleachers, closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
The stands were packed with spectators, hallways swarming with happily chattering players.
Parking lots outside overflowed with cars from all over the state.
After a moment of silent meditation, the energetic young field hockey coach opened her eyes and smiled.
She was ready to talk ... ready to hold forth on one of the region's most popular athletic events: Honesdale's annual indoor tournament.
"This is our 17th year and it pretty much runs like a well-oiled machine," Coach Maciejewski said. "I got a chance to visit with all the teams today and everyone's happy. I'm very pleased."
Honesdale's indoor field hockey tournament had a modest start all those years ago. However, as time passed and positive reviews circulated, demand for slots began to grow.
Fourteen teams battled in the Open Division Friday. That number jumped to 24 on Saturday for the Junior High Division.
On Sunday 21 squads hit the hardwood for High School Division action.
Over the course of the entire weekend, Coach Maciejewski estimated that more than 600 players came out to compete.
Breakin' It Down
Indoor field hockey is much different sport than its outdoor counterpart.
The playing area is smaller and the hard surface promotes a radically faster pace.
There are five players and a goalie per side. Games are 15 minutes running time.
Each team that entered was guaranteed at least seven games with the best records advancing to the medal round.
The roster for Saturday's junior high bracket was a veritable "Who's Who" of the PA field hockey elite.
Lake Lehman, Wyoming Valley West, Bloomsburg, Hazleton, Wyoming Area were all on hand to do battle with five teams from Honesdale and Paupack.
"We've made a lot of great friends over the years from this tournament," said Coach Maciejewski.
"I hear so many people say they had fun here as a player and now they're coming back as coaches. That's pretty cool."
Maciejewski herself was a standout player for the Lady Hornets and went on to a stellar collegiate career before returning home to begin coaching.
She leapt back into the fray Friday as Team Captain for the "Hix With Stix" Open Division squad.
Joining Becca on the court were former Honesdale stars Morganne Firmstone, Maureen 'Mo' Ordnung, Kaitlyn Barnes, Elly Skinner, Carly Propst, Grace Manzione.
This star-studded team went unbeaten in Pool Play and advanced all the way to the championship game before finally tasting defeat.
And, even that was a razor-thin 4-3 decision in overtime to Pleasant Valley.
Over & Out
This year's tournament got underway Friday after noon and continued straight through to Sunday night.
Honesdale's assistant coaches and the Friends of Field Hockey played major roles in its success.
"I couldn't have done any of this without them," said Coach Maciejewski. "We have amazing people in this organization and they work so hard for the kids."
The Lady Hornet coaches and Friends of Field Hockey boosters have already begun thinkig about next year.
Even after welcoming a record number of players and teams, there is apparently still room for growth.
"I hope it keeps going and growing," Coach Maciejewski said. "It's a lot of work, but it's really worth it."