It’s a sport that is played in 112 countries worldwide.

It also has an estimated 2.2 billion fans, according to

However, the game that may have originated more than 2,000 years ago hasn’t made an earth-shattering impact in the United States.

For the most part, at least.

A city that was once part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, on the other hand, strongly begs to differ.

When it comes to Hudson, Ohio, field hockey could be considered as sacred as the Statue of Liberty is to Manhattan or Hollywood is to Los Angeles.

These days, a surplus of young women are taking quite a liking to a sport that features fiberglass sticks and a plastic ball.

No one appreciates this abundance of stick-handling teenagers more than Hudson second-year head coach Louise Knox.

"I’m so grateful," the 1987 Hudson graduate said. "This speaks to the culture Pat Laflin created. It continued with Connie Walton, Jen Haney and Laurie Wilkins. We strive to continue that family culture."

Knox first learned about the Explorers’ culture when she was a youth. She was a member of Hudson’s 1984 and 1986 state championship teams. The Explorers won their third state title in 1996.

Knox, who enters her sixth year with the team, played for both Laflin and Walton, who were Hudson’s head coaches at the time. Prior to becoming the team’s head coach, Knox served as an assistant coach to Wilkins, who guided the Explorers to the state final in 2015.

Haney, who spent more than a decade as Hudson’s head coach, is currently an assistant on Knox’s staff.

Thanks mainly to her tremendously successful predecessors, Knox enjoyed quite a honeymoon with her ridiculously talented squad last fall.

The Explorers finished undefeated in the vaunted Northeast Ohio Field Hockey League.

They didn’t stop there.

Hudson’s version of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour landed them in the state title match for the second time in four years.

The overwhelming success has inspired many others to join the bandwagon. This year’s team has 45 players on the roster. Many of those athletes learned the nuances of the sport long ago.

"We run programs in the winter from second through sixth grade," Knox said. "Twice a year, the girls have opportunities to get exposed to the sport. We’ve had a good youth program."

Several of the current players got a chance to spend quality time together and fine-tune their skills earlier in the summer. They recently participated in a team camp at Michigan State University.

"I would say 35 of the 45 girls went to the camp," Knox said. "It was a nice getaway for them. They also went on a hiking adventure to do some team bonding. They recently did paddle-kayaking at Portage Lakes."

Field hockey may never be able to duplicate the same rabid fan bases such as football, basketball and baseball does in a land that bleeds red, white and blue colors. Nonetheless, the game has a permanent home in a certain suburban community known for its historic district.

In Hudson, field hockey is not just a sport played by young females. It’s a cultural foundation that is built to last.

"We are very excited about the turnout for our tryouts," Knox said. "People want to be part of a program that takes hard work and dedication. The level of play was high across both teams."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @FrankAceto_RPC.