In the Builder Category for this year’s hall of fame, Field Hockey Canada honours an innovator that’s excelled at all levels of the game.
Victor Warren contributed as a player and administrator. He was the CFHA (Canadian Field Hockey Association) President, national team manager, and as a player. Tony Boyd, Warren’s former teammate, described what made him a great builder.
“He’s a great leader, when Victor decides to do something most people follow him,” said Boyd.
Victor grew up in Point Grey, in Vancouver, and stumbled upon field hockey when he was in high school at University Hill Secondary. His mentor was none other than his father Harry Warren, who was the Field Hockey coach at UBC and a fellow FHC Hall of Famer.
“Field Hockey was something I learned much later in life that he started at UBC, but it wasn’t a big influence on my young life, “ said Warren. “It became more important especially after I got to UBC and saw that I had enough talent and skills to play.”
It was at UBC where Warren took his game to the next level. He led the team in goals for three consecutive seasons and played a big role in helping the team capture three Vancouver League Championships, and two Knockout Cup victories. His contributions to the university led him to also be inducted in the UBC Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Warren played at a time when Field Hockey was in its infancy in Canada. As a result, Warren ended up making history as part of the first Canadian field hockey team to ever play in the Olympics back in 1964.
“I was delighted and the whole Tokyo experience was great… It’s an experience I wish everyone could have,” said Warren.
After the Olympics, Warren began to step away from the game professionally and started to contribute to the CFHA on the administrative side. His relationship with Peter Buckland, former teammate and CFHA President at the time, led him to the men’s national team manager in 1973.
As team manager, Warren alongside fellow builders Peter Buckland and John McBryde introduced artificial turf into the game at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Looking back on that accomplishment, Warren says that implementing the turf helped build the foundation for the skilled players of today.
“The skill level of these guys now is just beyond belief, partly due to artificial turf,” said Warren. “We played on garbage sometimes….who has real grass in bad conditions?”
Despite being a part of a team who won multiple silver medals at the Pan-American games as a manager, Warren and the rest of team Canada still yearned for their first gold medal at the event. This led to Warren to take on an even bigger role with the team in 1980, as CFHA president, in order to try and find a way to get over the hump. Warren got the idea of a difference maker while talking to fellow Hall of Famer Jack Taunton.
The missing link ended up being a sports psychologist named Saul Miller, a psychologist who’d previously worked with the Vancouver Canucks. According to Warren, he says that decision is what helped them not only win gold at the 1983 Pan-American games, but in the 1987 games as well.
“We went from silver, silver, as manager and now suddenly. I’m in an elevated position and we get gold,” said Warren. “It’s just a wonderful feeling. Surround yourself with good people and things will happen.”
Another accomplishment during Warren’s tenure was bringing the 1985 Junior World Cup to Vancouver. Despite all the hurdles he and the organization had to go through, including losing government grants and having venue scheduling issues at BC Place, the event still took place and drew thousands from around the world. Warren’s managerial prowess was acknowledged that same year when he was named the Air Canada executive of the year in 1985.
He stepped away as President in 1990, but still continues to stay involved in the game through the Joker’s field hockey club, which has been around since 1964. While reflecting on his career, Warren credits his ability to be around the right people as a catalyst for his success.
“Surround yourself with good people, that’s what I did when I was team manager and president for those 10 years,” said Warren. “I had really good people.”