By Ali Lee – UVIC Communications
April 8, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Canadian women’s field hockey is experiencing a re-birth following their failure to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics.
Field Hockey Canada has brought in new leadership in head coach Ian Rutledge, formerly with New Zealand’s national women’s team, who has been accessing the national team pool extensively for the past few weeks.
Team Canada is building towards the Rio 2016 Olympics but prior to their qualification, Field Hockey Canada is focusing on their development strategy and have such announced a senior squad (WNT), development squad (DS) and junior development squad (JDS). Prior to each tour, event or tournament, a competition team will be selected out of these three pools of athletes.
Topping those lists are four players with Vikes ties including former Vikes Thea Culley (2003-05, 2006-07), Dani Hennig (2007-11) and Kaitlyn Williams (2007-12). As well, current Vike Kathleen Leahy was named to the list.
Culley returns to the national squad posting a squad-high 91 international caps and has competed at the 2011 Pan American Games, 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2008 Olympic Qualifier. With the Vikes, Culley was apart of the 2003, 2005 and 2006 CIS silver medal teams before re-locating to Vancouver to train for the Junior World Cup in 2005 and the senior team following that.
Williams and Hennig entered the same freshmen year at UVic, in 2007. In their second year, the duo helped the Vikes to their first CIS gold in six seasons. Williams was a stand out in goal, while Hennig scored the first goal of the 2-1 victory that saw the young squad of only one fifth year win on home turf. In 2011-12, Hennig opted out of returning to the Vikes to prioritize national team training, while Williams returned for the games she could. For her performances, Williams was named the Canada West Goalkeeper of the Year and a CIS second-team All-Canadian in her fifth season.
Rounding out the list is Leahy, who will enter her second season with the Vikes in the fall of 2013, following a knee injury that kept her out of her intended rookie season in 2011. Leahy, a local product of Oak Bay High, cracks the senior squad after helping the Junior national program earn a silver medal in October 2012 at the Junior Pan American Championship. Since then, Leahy has been a defensive leader for the Vikes squad.
Culley, Williams, Hennig and Leahy will all be undergoing intensive training over the summer months and gearing up for the Toronto-hosted Pan American Games, where Canada will earn a host berth. The Pan American champion will receive an automatic spot at the 2016 Olympic games.
Currenet Vikes assistant coach Krista Thompson has also been an active member of both the senior and more specifically the junior national team program. Thompson is actively running the Center of Excellence training program on the island for the under-17 identified national team athletes.
Women’s National Team (WNT)
Senior Development Squad (DS)
Junior Development Squad (JDS)