One of the most accomplished leaders in Canadian field hockey history is being inducted into the Hall of Fame in the athlete category.
David Bissett captained the first Canadian team to win gold at the 1983 Pan American Games and was the first Canadian men’s national team player to log over 100 international matches. He said he never played for recognition but now that he’s being inducted into the Hall, he’s thankful and honoured.
“This is a tremendous honour for me,” said Bissett. “I had a very long field hockey career, and I didn’t think about any of this when I was playing.”
Bissett grew up near a lumber camp in northern Vancouver Island, before he and the rest of his family moved to Vancouver, near UBC, where his mother was working towards receiving her teaching certificate. It was there that Bissett was exposed to field hockey through one of his friends, whom he accidentally walked to field hockey practice with.
He joined in on that same practice and scored three goals on his first day, and the rest was history. Under the guidance of UBC Hall of Famer Lee Wright, Bissett would climb his way up the field hockey ladder at an early age.
He would join the Vancouver Hawks Club and would go on to win the Canadian U16 Championship MVP in 1968. “I think that was a point where I realized that I could really go somewhere with this game,” said Bissett.
Bissett’s skillset caught the attention of UBC head coach John McBryde, who recruited him to UBC’s field hockey team in 1972. It was there when Bissett would captain the team to three championships.
While at UBC, Bissett turned heads in the national team environment. This led him to being selected for the senior national team. He made a quick impression and wound up playing in both the 1975 Pan American Games and 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
“I don’t think there could ever be anything quite like marching in the opening ceremony as host nation,” said Bissett.
Bissett closed out the 70s by playing in the 1978 World Cup and the 1979 Pan American Games. The disappointing result of that 1979 Pan Am gold medal game was a turning point for Bissett, as the loss to Argentina caused him to contemplate stepping away from the game.
However, new national team head coach Shiv Jagday convinced him he still had more to give. Under Jagday, Bissett would go on to captain the first Canadian team to win gold at the 1983 Pan American Games against Argentina. He capped off his Pan American Games experience as the Canadian flag bearer at the closing ceremony.
Bissett retired on a high note after Captaining the Men’s National Olympic Team in 1984. Since then, he stayed involved with the game, including being the manager for the men’s national team for three years until 2004. Bissett’s nephew, Brenden, has continued the family legacy by representing Field Hockey Canada at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
“I just hope I’m remembered as not only the player I was but the way I gave back to the game,” said Bissett. “Field Hockey is in my blood. It gave me so much that I certainly wanted to give back.”
Congratulations to David Bissett on being inducted to the Field Hockey Canada Hall of Fame!