Women on the rise in Field Hockey

Toronto, February 14, 2012

In Mexico this past fall, Canada’s women’s field hockey team put together the best Pan American Games performance our country has seen in past 12 years: fourth place.

Canada’s women’s field hockey team, however, is not interested in fourth place. These athletes are not interested in what happened 12 years ago, either.

Our rising squad of young women living and training together in Vancouver is interested in what’s happening right now. They are interested in what they have to make happen for an Olympic experience at London 2012 team leaders say would be “monumental”.

“There is nothing like the Olympic experience,” says forward Thea Culley, 25, who hails from Rossland, B.C. “We haven’t played with Olympians. To get that experience now, especially with a young squad, would really help to move our program forward and give us that boost.”

Olympic success doesn’t happen overnight; something these women understand. It’s not out of reach though, and after a weekend of soaking in the wisdom and inspiration of Canadian Olympians who have blazed that trail at this year’s Series of Excellence, Culley and team captain Katie Baker now have some powerful tools to bring back to the ladies in Vancouver.

“I wish our whole team could be here,” said Culley about the emotional and mental lift a weekend in Mississauga, Ont. with Canada’s best can provide. “But it’s up to us to inject this new inspiration. If they can do it, (we) can do it. It doesn’t matter how it feels.”

It’s no secret our women play in the shadows of a renowned men’s team here and away from the spotlight of ladies field hockey powerhouses like Argentina and the U.S. This suits Baker just fine as her crew quietly marches toward an Olympic journey.

“Our team goes in with a quiet confidence,” says the midfielder, 27, of Argyle Shore, P.E.I. There isn’t a lot of Rah! Rah! in front of other teams. We put our heads down and get it done and I think that’s what a lot of Canadian sport embodies.

In return, the Maple Leaf embodies them.

“When we step on the pitch we’re all part of one team, which is Canada,” said Baker. “Outside of that we have so many different personalities, but the one thing that unites us is being on that team and wearing the Maple Leaf.”

The team is now chasing qualification for London 2012 at the FIH Olympic Qualification Tournament which runs Feb. 18-26 in New Delhi, India. They need to win if they want a ticket to London.

“It’s a difficult way to get (to the Olympics),” said Baker. “But it’s not impossible.”