Former Canadian Women’s National Team coach Marina van der Merwe became the first individual representing the sport of field hockey named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame when she was inducted to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Van der Merwe, who was named to the inaugural Field Hockey Canada Hall of Fame Class in 2014 and inducted in a ceremony in Toronto this past summer, will also be entering Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame as a builder.
“Being named made me re-live the best years of my life,” she told fieldhockey.ca after her inclusion in the Class of 2015 was announced earlier this year. “It was just a very emotional, happy, surprising award.”
For nearly twenty years, van der Merwe coached the Canadian Women’s National Team, overseeing a tenure that is widely regarded as the pinnacle of field hockey for Canada on an international level.
During her time at the helm of the Women’s National Team, Canada’s women competed in three Olympic Games, six World Cups, and three Pan American Games.
It was at the 1983 Women’s World Cup of Hockey where van der Merwe and her athletes were rewarded for being one of the emerging international powerhouses of field hockey at the time, by taking home a silver medal.
“It was the best years of my life and I look back and I think of the lessons learned, how I grew through the sport, and how we were able to make the sport grow,” she adds. “It wasn’t the Olympics that was the grind and the wonderful part, it was getting to the Olympics which was a huge effort on the athletes’ part. And that was where the growth had to occur.”
The South African-born coach was a long-time leader in the Canadian University ranks, presiding over six silver and two bronze medals at the National level. She will be officially inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony on October 21, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta.
Van der Merwe enters the Hall alongside speed skater Susan Auch, ice hockey players Paul Coffey and Daniel Goyette, para-swimmer Michael Edgson, judoka Nicolas Gill, cross-country skiers Sharon and Shirley Firth, freestyle skier Jennifer Heil, soccer player Craig Forrest, cyclist Lori-Ann Meunzer, and golfer Jocelyne Bourassa.
“I just had the opportunity to meet and mingle with them,” she says. “It’s funny we all talk the same language, although we are different sports, we all talk the same language about what it takes to make it.”