Field Hockey Canada > “Clear message” sent at Women’s National Team year-end camp

With the completion of its year-end camp this week in Vancouver, a busy year has come to an end for Canada’s women’s field hockey team.

Designed as a way to assess where the Women’s National Program stands at the end of a busy year, which saw the women compete successfully in a number high stakes, the camp brought the full Women’s National Team back together for one last time before the end of the year.

Having been training and competing in pockets across the country and world for the last few months, the year-end camp included fitness and strength testing, on-field training and team meetings.

“The girls have actually finished the year fitter than they started and they already started the year fitter than they’ve ever been,” says Women’s National Program director and head coach Ian Rutledge. “Every time we’re back together, the girls are recording great scores.”

Improving the fundamentals is undoubtedly encouraging for the Women’s program, but with the full squad back together for the first since the end of the Pan American Games in Toronto in July, Rutledge has taken away more than just scores.

“I think the girls are sending a clear message,” he says. “They’re determined, they’re dedicated, and inspired to ensure that we make the most of what has been a great year. I think they’re sending a message that they’re focused on Tokyo.”

With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games out of reach for Canada’s women, the focus has now shifted to the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

But the games nearly five years away and it would be easy for athletes to lose motivation, especially after a year that carried so much emotion every step of the way. But for Canadian Women’s National Team, evidenced by what transpired over the last few days in Vancouver, a lack of motivation is not an issue.

“We’ve had personal bests at this camp, the level of hockey in the scrimmages was the best I’ve ever seen at a carding camp,” says veteran forward Thea Culley. “We’ve got the right mentality that’s going to continue to propel us forward.”

And while 2015 was successful – the women captured a medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games for the first time since 1999 and also cracked the top twenty in the field hockey world rankings – the focus is clearly on what lies ahead.

“This next four year cycle is going to be huge for us,” says captain Kate Gillis. “Taking the momentum from this year and just building and building and building. Where we hope to be in 2020 is the Olympics.”