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Granite State Games: Field hockey, volleyball score biggest

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 24. 2018 10:45PM

With four years of the Granite State Games completed, its chief executive director, Patrick Mulcahy, is looking forward to a short break before planning the fifth iteration.

Mulcahy, a Merrimack resident, said everything came together well for the fourth installment of the Games, which ran last Monday through Sunday.

The Granite State Games are sponsored in part by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“We’re excited to keep growing and just build momentum,” Mulcahy said.

With four years of the Olympic-style event completed, field hockey and volleyball have proven to be arguably the two strongest of the Games’ eight sports. The event also features soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, softball and baseball.

Each sport has a tournament consisting of four regional teams — Coastal, Southern, Monadnock and Lakes — with rosters featuring rising seventh-graders to graduating high school seniors residing in New Hampshire or attending a public, private or prep school in the state.

Mulcahy said field hockey and volleyball had the two largest number of players try out and the most college coaches attend among the Games’ eight sports this year. About 36 college coaches attended this year’s Games overall, Mulcahy said.

Coastal defeated Lakes to win both the volleyball and field hockey tournaments this year. The Coastal volleyball team defeated Lakes, 3-0, on Saturday. The Coastal field hockey team beat Lakes, 4-0, on Sunday.

Mulcahy credited Granite State Games field hockey director Melissa Grant, a former assistant coach at Southern New Hampshire University, and volleyball director Melissa Miner, who began her coaching career in 1999, for the interest in both sports among players and college coaches.

“Field hockey has been great,” Mulcahy said. “Melissa Grant is in that field hockey world full-time. She knows a lot of college coaches and does a really nice college packet for those coaches with rosters and schools (the players attend). It’s a huge draw for coaches. ... Melissa Miner in volleyball does the same thing. That’s probably why they’re getting the most coaches.”

About 600 athletes total competed in this year’s Games, Mulcahy said.

“All sports we have now are healthy and doing well,” Mulcahy said. “They’re all led by really good directors who are passionate about the game and are well connected within their sport.”

This year marked the first Games that included tennis. Mulcahy said both the doubles and singles tournaments featured players from each of the four regions, with Southern having the most competitors. Mulcahy would like to grow the number of players in the other three regions ahead of next year’s event.

The Games may add additional sports for next year, said Mulcahy, who recently talked with someone involved with archery regarding the event. If the Games stays at eight sports for its fifth installment, though, Mulcahy said that is a good number for the event.

“We can add any sport imaginable as long as we have a director in place who is passionate about the sport and connected in the sport to help with the coaching staff and getting the word out to players,” Mulcahy said.

Mulcahy wants to continue utilizing facilities at both Derryfield School of Manchester and Southern New Hampshire University for next year’s Games. Both schools have hosted the Games each of the past four years.

“We’d like to stay at SNHU and Derryfield School,” Mulcahy said. “They’ve been home for us since Day 1 and both do a great job hosting events.”

While Mulcahy said it will be nice to catch his breath before planning for the fifth annual Games begins in the fall, he is already looking forward to next year’s event.

“I enjoy everything,” Mulcahy said about the Games. “There’s so many positives I’ve seen throughout the course of the week. From everyone chipping in and volunteering to the sportsmanship to the parity and athleticism, there’s nothing I don’t enjoy about the week.”