Hello from the Haverford field hockey team in Vancouver! Here in Canada, the country of the famous Tim Hortons and loonie and tuney currency, the Haverford field hockey team will be coached in clinics by members of the Canadian national hockey team along with playing games against local club teams. In the midst of all this playing, we will be enjoying all Vancouver has to offer with its hiking, outdoor sports, and city life.
After meeting on campus early Saturday morning, the team set out to the Philadelphia airport. While taking off from Philly went off without a hitch, a small hurdle was encountered when we were informed that there would be a delay in our transfer in Houston. Quickly turning this negative into a positive, the team embarked on its first team bonding experience of creating a team music video to the mash up song of “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You.” Everyone has been involved in the video, including the coaching staff and [surprisingly] Cory Walts. Be expecting greatness when the final cut is released. Moreover, while waiting in the Houston airport the team was put through the movement screen test by the coaching staff. Imagine the sight of seventeen girls of doing pushups and squats in the middle of the airport. Just a casual day in the life of a HCFH player…
Our first day in Vancouver began with an early rise and a ‘steady tempo run’ a la Cory. We started the run at our hotel and continued it along the bay waterfront giving us a beautiful picture of the city. While we were sprinting to keep up with Coach and Cory, we were given our first opportunity to scout out the city and what it has to hold. To finish up our morning warm-up, Cory stretched us out as we overlooked the bay.
After a quick breakfast, the team set out on our afternoon adventure around the city. We were given around four hours to explore the city and began so by walking towards the Granville Mall area. Splitting off into separate groups, half of the team headed to Stanley Park while the other half made their way to Sunset Beach. Stanley Park, a major park in the northern section off the city, contains hiking and biking paths juxtaposed to gorgeous mountains in the background. Other sites the team encountered ranged from Yaletown to the Gastown Steam Clock, while the coaching staff checked out the Granville Markets that included street performers and small shops.
Something fun to mention is our hotel’s proximity to the 2010 Winter Olympic Stadium. A lot of the girls came into the trip wanting to see the Olympic stadium and were pleasantly surprised when we saw that our hotel is directly across from it! Even from our hotel windows, we overlook the looming stadium that glows a bright blue at night. The Olympic village for the athletes was also pointed out to us, giving the team a good context of the Olympics’ influence on the city. Even with the summer games winding down, we are still surrounded by the images of the Olympic rings throughout the city!
At 3 p.m. the team boarded the bus all dressed and ready to go for our first clinic session. We were introduced to Thea Cully, a member of the Canadian national squad, who ran the session. The team underwent the first Walts warm up specialty of the season updated with all the new stretches for the year. With the help of the tour leader Michelle, Thea led the team through drills to get our sticks and minds back into the game. The field hockey field itself was in an idyllic position, situated right between the waterfront and the mountains. With the smell of salt water close by, the team practiced for around an hour and a half before our game against the Vancouver hockey club team, Fury.
Club Fury, decked out in purple uniforms, was a team of mixed ages, ranging from early twenties to late thirties. Coach set our goals for the game, including getting accustomed to playing hockey together as a team and just have fun. In our first game together for over three months, the Haverford field hockey team took the field and excelled. We made strong passing combinations down the field and had great communication throughout. The whole team was fluid, as each player was continually moved around to different positions and playing systems. I must give a shout out to defender Christie Quake for breaking a girl on the other team’s nose midway through the game. But hey, that’s what the Canadian socialized health care is for, right? We won our first game with a 5-0 score and exchanged gifts with the opposing team. After being warmed down by the Cory Walts, we headed back onto the bus and to the hotel for dinner.
One thing I have been surprised with so far is how many proper field hockey fields I have passed in the city. While most people expect to see basketball courts or soccer fields, I have actually seen three fields (and more to come) scattered around the city, all of which have been lined solely for the purpose of field hockey. I did not expect field hockey to be a big sport in Canada, but so far I have been proven wrong. Also, the stereotype of the ‘nice Canadian’ has been proven true over and over again.
Tomorrow the team has sea kayaking and another clinic with Thea Cully in store! Can’t wait!