It’s the team behind the team. The ones that don’t get that much recognition but put in as much work as the competing athletes. They watch film, run fitness tests – nurture their minds and bodies to prepare themselves for the international stage.
USA Field Hockey is proud to have three individuals representing Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as an umpire, umpire manager and technical official.
At the pinnacle of her career, Maggie Giddens is a well-known official in the United States and on the international scene. On the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) Umpire Olympic Games and International Panels, she has been appointed to many high-level competitions over the years and has officiated 124 international matches to date. Those include the 2017 women’s Fintro Hockey World League Semifinals, 2017 Pan American Cup, 2018 Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup and 2019 and 2020-21 FIH Hockey Pro Leagues.
Making her first Olympic Games appearance, Giddens is excited to be representing the red, white and blue and her country.
“The Olympic Games have been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” said Giddens. “At first I dreamed of going for equestrian, then swimming and then field hockey…chasing this dream and making it as an umpire is a surreal feeling. The Olympics are an incredible honor, it is the pinnacle point for athletes and officials’ careers!”
USA Field Hockey’s Director of Umpiring and FIH Umpire Manager Olympic Games Panel Steve Horgan was appointed as one of four umpire managers for Tokyo 2020. Someone who is utterly devoted to umpiring, he was an umpire at both the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as well as World Cup and Champions Trophy events. Since 2012, he has regularly been appointed to FIH events as an umpire manager, putting those years of international umpiring experience to good use.
In this role, he helped prepare the appointed umpires ahead of the event, so that when game time starts, he can act as a team manager for the group. He is responsible for managing the umpire appointments each game, watching game film and reviewing with umpires for development and aiding in the evaluation of umpire performances for crossover game appointments.
“Umpires have heard me say before…If I cannot be with my immediate family, the field hockey family is who I want to be with,” said Horgan. “It is such an honor to be able to represent USA Field Hockey and the Pan American Hockey Federation at the most important world sporting event and to be part of a family that is so unique. It is only because of the love and support of my immediate family that I even get to be part of this larger family of hockey. USA Field Hockey has supported me for almost 40 years in umpiring and I cannot repay or say thank you enough for the support, education and even the challenges that have gotten me to this point.”
“Being behind the scenes at the Olympic Games, you realize they are not about medals or commercialism. They are about peace, respect and understanding with different cultures. If the whole world could live like we do for these two weeks, there would be less global problems. To be part of the Games is a life experience like none other and again, I am very honored to be a small part of it and represent USA Field Hockey.”
Rene Zelkin has been a technical official, judge or tournament director/administrator since 2005. In 2016, she reached a personal milestone, being selected for two prestigious events as a judge at the women’s Champions Trophy and a technical officer at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She will repeat as a technical official at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, helping manage the game off the field from behind the technical table. Her role includes communicating with the team benches (usually through the head coach or manager) managing penalty cards, game clock, score and shootout logistics, as well as additional technical work as needed.
With this being Zelkin’s second Olympic Games appointment, she said the experience is sure to be another amazing and memorable one.
“This Olympic Games will truly be different from the last, yet it is still the Games,” said Zelkin. “Participating at the highest level as a technical official is a high point in the passion that I have had as a child. I am very thankful for all the support from my family, my hockey family and my mentors over the years to help me learn and grow, and my colleagues at work who ensure I have the time off to go. I look forward to working with my fellow technical officials throughout the world. Together, we will make this Olympics a memorable and successful event.
“Huge credit to Maggie, Steve and Rene who have risen to the very top of their profession,” commented Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey’s Executive Director. “Their appointments are well deserved and reflect positively on the officiating community in the United States. We wish them all the best as they represent USA in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”