Field Hockey Canada > Connor Grimes: Grasshopper to Olympics

Connor Grimes: Grasshopper to Olympics

June 30, 2010 | Field Hockey Canada |

Connor Grimes retires from National Team Program

June 30, 2010 

By Cecilia Carter-Smith 

Some weeks ago I filed my final submission to field hockey Canada. Or so I thought. 

Upon review of my “sidebar submissions” I noticed a major imbalance. The field hockey pitch leaned heavily in favour of sketches about our national women excluding similar sketches about the remarkable young men on our national teams.

I assure you it was not an intentional infraction. I simply got on a roll scribbling about the accomplished young women who suit up for the red and white and the ball kept rolling. Before I knew it I had completed my assignment – ten submissions. 

Noticing my imbalance I connected with the Ottawa office – apologized – and assessed myself a penalty. A red card.  Now that I have served my banishment from the field of play I have returned to the pitch and decided to scribble a few more pieces for the Field Hockey Canada site.

So here goes:

Not long ago I received a dispatch indicating that 2008 Olympian, Connor Grimes, a B.C. boy and an eight year veteran of the men’s senior side decided to retire from the national program.

The decorated Brentwood College School (Mill Bay, Vancouver Island) graduate called it “a difficult decision to step down from the (national) team. 

“It was a decision that took me a long time to make but I needed to invest in other parts of my life and that was not possible while playing on the national team,” said the 2007 recipient of the distinguished (B.C.) Premier’s Athletic Award.

“Amateur sport has become professional in all aspects and if Canada wants to excel at the highest level, then full commitment by everyone is a necessity,” said the 2007 Pan American gold medallist and Pan Am All-Star.  “I feel that my commitment to the team was definitely one of my greatest contributions.” 

The formidable frontliner continued, “I believe in recent years that this is what everyone in the team had done (i.e. full commitment to the team), and that allowed us to play in the recent Olympic Games (2008) and World Cup (2010).”

I asked the 27 year old former “grasshopper” what attracted him to field hockey over more traditional Canadian sports like ice hockey, football, even lacrosse.

“Growing up in the Cowichan Valley (centrally located between Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) and playing field hockey (beginning at age 5) with my family is what really made me start to enjoy the game. My mother was, at the time, competing in the ladies field hockey league on Vancouver Island. To get the kids involved with the games most of the mums put them in the kids league and that’s where the grasshopper leagues come from.

“My brother (Rich) and I were always on the same team and always battled to do better than one another. And that’s where all the training started!”

Connor continued, “Field hockey was always after soccer season and I had to choose between baseball and field hockey. Field hockey had many of the same aspects as soccer and was far more exciting than baseball (to me anyway!). 

“Although the (field hockey) season was only a couple of months long, I loved it and it was definitely a passion of mine from a young age. I always wished the season was longer.”

And indeed the season did become longer. 

Not unlike so many Canadian kids watching the Olympic Games the “grasshopper’s” appetite for the game grew. 

“The Olympics is ‘the show’ and the ultimate destination,” said the engaging national. “Everything started to become clear when I was 12 or 13. It was around the time of the Atlanta (1996) Olympic Games and I knew that an opportunity was there to play field hockey in ‘the show.’ 

“At that age there was a small group of boys that were all competitive athletes from Duncan (B.C.) and we all played field hockey together. We all spoke of some day playing in the Olympics. 

“A couple of years down the road I started playing at the men’s level for the Victoria Selects and I got to play with not only some great players but national team athletes (too). These guys were heroes in my eyes.

“Not long thereafter, the Sydney Olympics were on. Canada had qualified and was on national television. Sean Campbell and Ravi Kahion were teammates (of mine), and I was really excited for them and about the sport in Canada (and that I could prove to everyone that it wasn’t a ‘girls sport!’). 

“From then on I knew it (the Olympics) was achievable but not an easy task.”

To be continued…