A University of British Columbia coaching legend is saying goodbye.
Thunderbirds field hockey head coach Hash Kanjee is retiring, effective April 30.
He leaves the T-Birds program after 19 honour-filled seasons, eight of which ended with Kanjee celebrating a Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship.
“Hash has been the heart and soul of our successful women’s field hockey program for the past 19 years, it won’t be the same without him at the helm.” said Theresa Hanson, UBC’s Associate Director, Intercollegiate & High Performance Sport. “He has been such a positive influence for the sport of field hockey over the years, and has truly made a positive difference in the lives of so many student-athletes. We will miss him greatly, and wish him the very best in his retirement”.
Kanjee’s final game was on November 6, 2011 in Calgary, when UBC defeated the host Dinos 3-1 for the 2011 CIS championship. Between 1998 and 2006, Kanjee’s Thunderbirds won six national titles.
“It was the UBC student athletes who educated me on the many values and traditions of what it meant to be a UBC women’s field hockey player,” said Kanjee. “There was always this feeling that we were part of a long line of field hockey players before us (since 1908 actually) and that we were charged with the responsibility to uphold and continue those time tested and valued traditions they had established. Those included things like respecting the efforts and achievements of everyone on the team and truly valuing and caring for each other unconditionally. Always doing your very best in everything you do, respecting the efforts and achievements of the teams that came before them, and being proud to play for and represent the University of British Columbia.”
Kanjee took over from the legendary Gail Wilson in 1993 and was able to build on her success.
“The annual Pop Cup, orchestrated and continued by former coach Gail Wilson and celebrating it’s 25th year this year has really helped keep us in touch with alumni who help and support us and watch over us,” said Kanjee. “Gail has been a true friend and supporter and for that I thank her.”
UBC has medaled in four straight national championships, and in all but two CIS tournaments since 1998 – the year of his first title with the Thunderbirds, who haven’t missed the national championships with Kanjee as coach since 1997.
His record is 228-37-28 at UBC, which won the Canada West title in 14 of Kanjee’s 19 seasons. This year, his team won its ninth straight conference crown in addition to the national championship.
Kanjee won the Canada West Coach of the Year Award five times, including this past season. On three occasions, he was named the CIS Coach of the Year (1996, 1998, 2008).
“I am so very fortunate to have been given this amazing coaching opportunity here at UBC by Bob Philip in 1993,” said Kanjee. “It’s been a most rewarding and enjoyable time for me.”
His teams went on eight international tours in the past 15 years to develop the field hockey program at UBC.
“The student athletes got the opportunity to visit top field hockey nations in the world, to see how they compared to their peers on the hockey pitch and to learn from them and also experience the lives of student athletes and sport cultures abroad,” said Kanjee.
His success has had an immensely positive influence on the sport in Canada. About three-dozen of his players have gone on to play for the Canadian national team, while another is currently representing Guyana at the senior level.
Many more remain connected to the sport through coaching, umpiring and administration.
After eight national championships, Kanjee says it is the success of his players that has been most memorable.
“Nothing is more satisfying than working with these bright young student athletes at UBC and work with them towards a common goal. Their wellbeing has been at the center of my coaching and now to meet them after they graduated and see them positively contributing to Canada’s fabric of life is very gratifying,” said Kanjee.
Born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Kanjee journeyed to Canada in 1972 to pursue a degree in physical education at the University of Alberta. He graduated four years later and moved to Vancouver to begin his coaching career, starting off with a stint with the B.C. provincial U21 team in 1981.
Three years later, Kanjee took over the B.C. men’s ‘Best Ever’ senior program and continued in that role until 1988.
Kanjee also has experience coaching at the national level, coaching the men’s senior squad from 1989-91 including a World Cup, the Pan-Am Games and an Olympic qualifier. He did one stint as the head coach of the women’s junior national team in 2003, which he guided to the BDO Junior World Cup in Chile two years later.
As a player, he did a six-year stretch with the Men’s National Team from 1976-82, where he competed in the World Cup, the Pan-Am Games and an Olympic qualifier.
Under the direction of Dr. Dick Mosher, the former coach of the UBC women’s soccer team, Kanjee completed a master’s degree in human kinetics in 2000.
“A significant turning point in my coaching career was completing my masters of coaching study here at UBC, thanks to Dr. Richard Mosher,” said Kanjee. “Under his tutelage, I was able to build a framework on how best to work with young student athletes. Between Dick and the teams of 1995-2000, we developed a collaborative way towards producing the best team atmosphere both on and off the field. I am most fortunate to both Dick and those student athletes for showing me the way.”
Kanjee also thanks his fellow Thunderbirds’ coaches for their support and encouragement, as well as team Physician Dr. Rob Lloyd-Smith, Dr. Jack Taunton, Dr. Laura Farres (sport psychologist), physiotherapist Ron Mattison and the many other excellent UBC physiotherapy staff for their invaluable sports medicine help and expertise throughout the years.
He also gives credit to assistant coaches Kimo Linders and Anthony Wright.
“Kimo has been with the team for more than seven years now and both he and Anthony contributed greatly in the success of our program. Most importantly, they brought cutting edge skill and knowledge of the modern game and a different perspective and vitality to the team when it needed it,” said Kanjee.
A major milestone for Kanjee’s time at UBC was in 2001, when groundbreaking took place for Wright Field, the team’s current home.
“I am deeply indebted to Lee Wright and the Patrons committee, who together with Bob Philip and the UBC Athletic Department’s support made Wright Field at UBC a reality during my tenure,” said Kanjee. “This wonderful artificial turf facility has reinvigorated our sport at the school and helped UBC Field Hockey reach the modern era in our sport and provides the foundation on which great things can and do happen in the field hockey world.”