By Christie Melhorn, September 7 2017 —
Whether or not you’re a hockey fan, living in Calgary exposes you to the sport’s culture — the enjoyable chill of the rink and the boisterous fans dominating the city’s bars. But compared to ice hockey, field hockey is less well-known in the city. The University of Calgary’s women’s field hockey team wants to prove that the sport is equally as exciting on a turf as it is on ice.
The Dinos experienced hard-fought losses during the 2016 season to the Victoria Vikes and University of British Columbia Thunderbirds — the only other two teams in the Canada West league. Their season — and the chance to play in nationals — ended with a disappointing defeat against the Thunderbirds, the 2016 USports champions.
Head coach Peter Taylor, now entering his third year with the Dinos, says the team has grown considerably since he started.
“In the past, the Dinos field hockey program hasn’t been amazing, but achieving that isn’t unattainable,” Taylor said. “I started as coach the first day of preseason. The girls had to deal with a lot of new information very quickly but did a great job of it.”
Despite their losses, the Dinos have earned consistent recognition within Canada West. Defender and forward Sabrina Wong was the 2015 Canadian Interuniversity Sport rookie of the year and was named a 2016 Canada West all-star. And defender Jessica Britton was also named a Canada West all-star for the fifth time in 2016.
Taylor attributes the team’s development to their dedication and solidarity.
“Our group is very motivated and positive. A lot of our fourth-years have their hands up, asking how to become more involved,” Taylor said. “If they’re willing to give more, others are willing to give back. It builds a better and stronger team bond.”
The women’s team enter the 2017 season only two players short from last season’s roster, making for a promising year.
“The core from last year is still here. We still have 17 players from [last year’s] 19. That is a big advantage for us. A lot of other teams lost a lot of players,” he said.
Though the team’s roster is currently being finalized, Taylor says the eight rookies trying out show great potential.
“The level our rookies are at is really high,” Taylor said. “I have a lot of confidence that we’ll take the next step further this year.”
Taylor says that the players’ commitment to both academics and athletics create a positive environment for rookies and veterans alike.
“The players have a great sense of commitment to their sport and to their studies,” Taylor says. “They support each other so well. The older girls really mentor the rookies. They help them plan their schedules and engrain them into the team.”
On the field, Taylor expects the team will experiment with new strategies this season.
“This season we want to attack more both defensively and when we have the ball,” Taylor said. “We want to pressure the opposing team, make them make mistakes and let them give us the ball — and be more effective when we have it. Last year we created more chances but this year we want to be more clinical and get those goals.”
The women’s field hockey team begins their season in a home-opener against the Thunderbirds on Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. on Hawkings Field.