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Photo courtesy Field Hockey Mum

Dinos field hockey team wraps up best season in years

By Kristy Koehler, October 31 2018 —

The University of Calgary Dinos have been to more U Sports national championships than any other school in the country. At a university where the athletic program is a force to be reckoned with, the field hockey team stands apart — not for how many games they’ve won, but for how few.

The Dinos field hockey team hasn’t won a game since the 2011 season. In 2012, they tied one game but had an 0–8 record in each of the five seasons that followed. This year, the team had their best season in seven years — they tied two games. It’s easy to ask, “What’s wrong with the field hockey team?” The answer is nothing.

The Dinos face an uphill battle every year. There are only three teams in the Canada West Conference — the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, the University of Victoria Vikes and the Dinos themselves. The Ontario University Athletics Conference (OUA) has seven teams competing within it. The T-Birds and Vikes are regulars at the national championships, with the T-Birds winning the last seven straight national titles and the Vikes, with 11 national championships of their own, opposing the T-Birds in the last two championship games. Despite the prowess of their two Canada West competitors, the Dinos tied each team once this season.

“We had a great season if you compare it to other seasons,” said Dinos field hockey head coach Peter Taylor. “We play against the two top teams in the country. It’s an extremely difficult conference that we’re in. For us to get results just against UVic and UBC is an amazing achievement for us.”

If there were more teams competing in their conference, the Dinos would almost certainly be getting wins. It’s safe to say that the team’s effort and improvement don’t match the results.

This year, Taylor was honoured with his second-straight Canada West coach of the year award. Goalkeeper Ingrid Ulrich was named Canada West goalkeeper of the year and midfielder Michelle Patterson was honoured with the Gail Wilson Award for outstanding contribution both on and off the field. Dinos Sabrina Wong and Marion Arnott were also named to the Canada West all-star team.

Of his award, Taylor says it’s a team effort.

“I put it down to the team. The way the girls played. We work hard as a coaching staff. It’s not just me it’s the whole coaching staff. I see coach of the year as a recognition for the whole program, not just for me,” he said.

Does it bother the team to not see their efforts translate into wins? Not really, says Taylor.

“They understand we’re going against the top two,” he said. “Our focus is on our development and process. They’re disappointed for me — they wanted to win for me and I wanted to win for them. You want those results.”

While the players want to put up wins, they also play for love of the game.

“It’s not all about winning. They see the value of a varsity program — the friendships, the community spirit and the spirit of the team. They love the sport,” said Taylor.

Taylor says the university’s athletic program gives the team encouragement.

“The Dinos give us recognition, which is awesome,” he said. “It tells the girls that they’re valued here.”

Having completed his fourth season as head coach, Taylor is leaving the Dinos this year. Many of the veteran players are also graduating, including Ulrich, Patterson and Wong. The team will be in rebuild mode, actively recruiting for next year. Hopefully next year’s team can build on the momentum of this year’s effort and continue with an amazing attitude that shows the athletic world that while winning is great, it certainly isn’t everything.

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