Canada’s Santiago 2023 women’s handball team announced

TORONTO (August 31, 2023) – Handball Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s women’s handball team selected to compete at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.

The Team Canada women’s handball team for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games is:

Nassima Benhacine (Chambly, Que.)
Teodora Bosonea (Edmonton, Alta.)
Katya Chan* (Edmonton, Alta.)
Vassilia Gagnon (Rosemère, Que.)
Samantha Koosau (Brossard, Que.)
Laurie Lacasse (Granby, Que.)
Rosali Langlois (Notre-Dame-des-Bois, Que.)
Myriam Laplante (Rimouski, Que.)
Catherine Léger (Brossard, Que.)
Audrey Marcoux (Sherbrooke, Que.)
Maksi Pallas (Ardrossan, Alta.)
Alexandra Pivin (Drummondville, Que.)
Émily Routhier (Sherbrooke, Que)
Haven Wong (Edmonton, Alta.)
Myriam Zimmer (Candiac, Que.)

*alternate athlete

The Canadian women’s handball team qualified for Santiago 2023 after beating the American team in a play-off organized by the North American and Caribbean Handball Confederation (NACHC). The play-off was a two-game series, with the first in Michigan and the second in Quebec, where many of the Canadian players are from. With a 44-31 aggregate win, Team Canada earned their ticket to Santiago 2023 – the eighth time in history and fifth time in a row that Team Canada would play in the women’s handball tournament at the Pan American Games.

“I am excited and proud to participate at my third Pan American Games,” said Gagnon, team captain and veteran player. “Our team has played together since 2017 and we have reached a new level in the last year. Our mission is to shine a light on Canadian handball and to step on the podium.”

The veteran team has worked hard over the past few years and has achieved success the program hasn’t seen in over two decades. They won Canada’s first handball medal in 26 years at the 2023 NACHC Championship. The Canadian women reached the final, coming agonizingly close to securing a berth for the IHF World Championships, as they finished the event with the silver medal. It was also the first time in 26 years that Canada had reached the final at the NACHC Championship. The Canadian women also won the gold medal at the 2023 Canadian Open, where they were able to play in front of family and friends in their home gym in La Prairie, Que.

“I can’t wait to meet with these new athletes for my first Pan Am Games, the biggest event in my career. Most of them are professional players and I’m looking forward to showing how competitive Canada can be!” said Laurie Lacasse, who will lean on the significant experience of her teammates while she makes her Pan American Games debut.

The team heads to Santiago with plenty of Pan American Games experience as 12 of 15 players named to this team competed at Lima 2019. Benhacine, Gagnon, Laplante, Marcoux, and Routhier were also members of the team who competed on home soil during the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. At both Toronto 2015 and Lima 2019, the Canadian women’s handball team placed seventh. Team Canada has captured three handball medals at the Pan American Games – all silvers from 1987, 1995 and 1999, all by the women’s team. Head coach Nathalie Brochu and Mental Performance coach Nadia Lefebvre were part of the team that won silver on home soil at Winnipeg 1999.

Santiago 2023 is a direct Olympic qualifier for handball. The teams that win gold medals will qualify for Paris 2024. Team Canada will compete against teams from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Paraguay and Puerto Rico for the coveted Olympic spot. The only Olympic Games at which Canada competed in handball was Montreal 1976, where Canada fielded both women’s and men’s teams as the host country.

“Santiago will mark my third Pan Am Games and they will be very exciting,” said Brochu, the first female coach in Handball Canada’s history, and who has been with the team since 2017. “Our team achieved results that were unthinkable until very recently. We are on an incredible run right now! These Games are the culmination of a cycle of commitment from dedicated and passionate athletes along with a coaching staff extremely proud to guide them.”

Women’s handball will take place October 24-29 (Days 4 to 9) at the Gimnasio Polideportivo in Viña del Mar.

“Hand in hand, eyes on the prize – Team Canada’s women’s handball team is on a mission to secure their spot at the Olympic Games,” said Christine Girard, Team Canada’s Santiago 2023 Chef de Mission. “As they step onto the Pan Am Games court, they carry the dreams of a nation, ready to play their hearts out for that coveted Olympic berth. Welcome to Team Canada!”

Team Canada’s women’s handball team coaches and support staff for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games are:

Nathalie Brochu (Montreal, Que.) – Head Coach
Audrey Vanslette (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.) – Coach
Nadia Lefebvre (Sherbrooke, Que.) – Mental Performance
Rafaëlle Allard (La Prairie, Que.) – Physiotherapist

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.

The latest Team Canada Santiago 2023 roster can be found here.



Kathryn Howden, Communications Lead
Handball Canada

Tara MacBournie, Team Canada Santiago 2023 Sport Communications Lead
Canadian Olympic Committee
C: 647-522-8328

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