Apr 5, 2024 - News

U.S. Field Hockey denies Erin Matson's Olympic opportunity

UNC field hockey head coach Erin Matson is lifted up by her team after defeating the Northwestern Wildcats for the national title in 2023. Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

UNC's 24-year-old field hockey coach Erin Matson — the most decorated college field hockey player of all time — has been barred from trying out for the U.S. Olympic field hockey team.

Why it matters: The decision means that Matson, who's been called the "Michael Jordan of field hockey," won't be able to compete on a global stage in Paris this summer.

Driving the news: Matson's role as head coach at UNC — which she took months after graduating, bringing the team to a the national championship win her first year — is the reason she isn't allowed to try out for the team, the Wall Street Journal reported.

  • The U.S. Olympic team is currently training in Charlotte.

The intrigue: U.S. Field Hockey has allowed college coaches to play in the Olympics previously. Matson's former UNC coach Karen Shelton played in 1984, three years after coaching the Tar Heels, the Journal noted.

What they're saying: The denial of Matson has even led to UNC issuing a statement on the matter.

  • John Preyer, chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, said in a statement that Matson is being denied a tryout "for reasons that are beyond comprehension."
  • "Why is US Field Hockey denying the greatest American player in history a chance to compete for a spot on the Olympic team?" he added "We trust US Field Hockey will reconsider their earlier statements and give Erin the opportunity to compete."
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