Field Hockey Canada > Canada’s present and future form bond at Women’s Under-16 Development Camp

As a young athlete, being invited to a National Identification Camp can be occasion enough to be nervous.

With a potential spot on the Canadian Junior Development Squad on the line, the pressure of performing might have felt immense for many of the Under-16 girls who attended November’s U16 Junior Development Camp.

But just as quickly as the camp began, the weight of being on the National stage – possibly for the first time – was lifted by the presence of four guest-coaches.

Veteran Senior Women’s National Team members Danielle Hennig, Kate Gillis, Kristine Wishart, and Thea Culley took time out of their busy schedules to attend the four-day camp.

“It was really fun,” Hennig says. “It was a good experience to get to know some of the younger girls who are going to be coming up through our program.”

Going from coaches to mentors

The senior women began their roles as coaches in a skills session but before they would know it, they were seen as mentors by the junior girls, who – within a stick’s length – had four examples of what they could become with the right attitude and work-ethic.

“I think that’s kind of more what we were there for, to give them an idea of what the National Program is about,” Hennig adds. “As we went along there was a players meeting that all four senior athletes ran, and we told them our stories to get to the National Team and I think that really helped them relate with us.”

When faced with decisions that can seemingly have such a large impact on the future of an athlete, many may feel lost or conflicted.

Coach, parents, friends all have opinions, but none may be as valuable as those from the athletes who have gone through the process and are proof of what works.

“That was a good lesson on decision making and thinking about our future and what we want to do and how much work it will take to get there,” says Margaret Pham, a fifteen year-old from Mississauga, Ontario, who was at her second National Camp after attending another Junior Development Camp this past summer.

“That’s one of the things that I like about going to camp,” she adds. “Whenever I go there I feel more inspired to keep working on it.”

Becoming a part of the Canadian National Team

In the short term, how that hard work might pay off for Pham and the rest of the Under-16 girls who attended camp is in being named to the Junior Development Squad (JDS).

The JDS is a group of athletes who will receive the opportunity to continue training with and possibly competing for Canada throughout 2015 and into 2016, a year in which Canada will be attempting to qualify for the Junior World Cup.

But it’s a long process between attending a junior camp and playing an international match for Canada.

Duncan’s Sara Goodman, who was also at her second junior camp with Canada, knows that and is grateful to have had the chance to learn from the Senior players.

“I learned that they went through this kind of experience in different ways and they experienced let downs during their pathway to making the team,” says Goodman. “It was really cool to hear their stories and know that all their hard work paid off.”

Words of wisdom from the wise

The best piece of advice Goodman took from the camp and the Seniors was simple: “Keep working at it, even if you don’t make it the first time it’s never over.”

For Goodman, Pham and their campmates, hearing that from a fellow athlete is worth its weight in gold.

Having gone through the process, Canadian Women’s National Team’s active cap leader, Thea Culley (118), knows the importance of her words and actions.

“It’s think that’s really valuable to have that player to player conversation because we share the same desire to play for Canada,” she says. “That’s what we have in common.” 

“We talked a lot about our team values, what we look for as teammates, and what we strive for ourselves. I think that’s really important a junior camp because a lot of the kids just don’t know.”

But after this past camp, they know. The message, in Pham’s opinion, is clear: “That we could be on Canada one day if we keep training and working hard.”


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