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Stick Figure

Shawn Hindy, From Westlake High, Plays for the U.S. Field Hockey Team With Hopes of Making 2000 Olympics

May 27, 1999|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shawn Hindy's goal is to play field hockey again in Australia. Sooner or later.

For Hindy, 23, a graduate of Westlake High, the ideal scenario would be as a member of the U.S. Olympic team in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. Beyond, the Perth Hockey League beckons.

Hindy played one season as a defenseman for the South Perth Wasps and relishes the chance to return.

"I played eight months down there and I loved it," Hindy said. "The thing about Perth is, it's a lot like San Diego."

Hindy was in San Diego this week, practicing with the U.S. National team in preparation for the 28th California Cup, an annual invitational field hockey tournament that has evolved into a spring ritual at Moorpark College.

The four-day tournament and festival begins Friday and will be highlighted Saturday by a 6 p.m. game between the U.S. and Mexican national teams, a preview between two teams expected to compete in the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, in July.

A second-place finish in the Pan Am Games will guarantee the U.S. a berth in the 12-team Olympic qualifier in Osaka, Japan, early next year.

This weekend, the San Diego Eagles, as the U.S. team is dubbed for the tournament, is competing for fun. Several members hail from the region, including brothers Shawn and Dean Nakamura of Camarillo and Scott Williams of Thousand Oaks.

Williams was a member of the 1996 Olympic team that finished 12th in the Summer Games in Atlanta.

Hindy, who began playing field hockey in 7th grade, was an alternate in 1996, the 17th player chosen on the 16-member squad. Hindy traveled to Atlanta and watched with the vision of participating in Sydney.

"It was frustrating because the U.S. team didn't do very well and it was a bad tournament for them," Hindy said. "A lot of people were telling me, 'Shawn, you should have been out there.' But I was kind of young."

Hindy, 5 feet 11 and 200 pounds, has been converted to forward to capitalize on his aggressive style of play.

"The thing about field hockey, is you can be any size or shape to play," Hindy said. "There are guys playing who are 6-6 and guys who are 5-3. It's not deemed a physical sport, but there is a lot of physical play and it helps to be big. You don't want to be pushed off the ball."

Field hockey is the second-largest participatory sport in the world behind soccer. The game is similar to soccer in that each side has 11 players, including a goalkeeper.

The California Cup, which began as a six-team tournament in 1971, includes 10 divisions, ranging from 9-and-under for boys and girls to Super Men's and Super Women's divisions.

The tournament will include 111 teams this year. The highest-level games will be played on the campus' lighted, artificial-surface field.

The event also will include ethnic foods, arts and crafts, and field hockey equipment for sale.

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