When Thomson Harris and his Canadian Under-21 teammates take to the pitch Friday in Toronto at the Junior Men’s Pan American Championship, they will be writing latest part of this country’s hockey history.
The Canadians will hit the University of Toronto’s Pan Am Fields, a legacy project from the 2015 Pan American Games, and the location Canada’s senior men and women both won medals last summer.
But for Harris, who will be playing in his first major tournament for Canada, wearing the red-and-white will have even more meaning, given his family’s own background with the sport.
Both his parents – father Doug and mother Candy – represented Canada playing field hockey. Doug competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea, and Candy in the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
That was long before Harris – now 17 and the second youngest member of Canada’s junior team in Toronto – was born. When he took up the sport at the age of seven – with his dad coaching his Vancouver Hawks team – he was just another kid playing hockey.
It was not until later, when Thomson was a teenager and began playing competitively for his province that he grasped just what his parents had accomplished.
“Probably around then I realized what it must have been like,” he says. “Not to the extent that it was, but I partially realized what they were doing when they competed.”
And it wasn’t long before Harris decided that field hockey was his thing too.
“It definitely was kind of like a ‘wow my parents did this, that would be really cool to do some day’ mentality,” he adds.
Mom, Candy, is pleased. But she and husband Doug never pushed Harris to follow in their footsteps. In fact, growing up he playing soccer, baseball, and competed in track and field and cross-country.
“It has to be his own,” Candy explains. “He has to find out what he likes. If that’s what he’s enjoying, that’s great.”
“It’s very exciting and I’m very proud of him.”
Harris’ selection to the Canadian Pan Am team was a surprise, if only to himself.
“I didn’t really have too many expectations of being selected for a team, especially this team,” he says. “I thought it’s really nice to be training with them but I don’t think I have too much of a chance.”
But with an impressive showing early in the year, he was chosen and will be counted upon to make a difference.
That’s just fine with Harris, who hopes this is the beginning of a long and prosperous career in field hockey.
“I’d like to take field hockey as far as I can,” he says. “Now with starting to play with the junior team this is kind of the first step to doing that.”
Harris and the Canadian men open the 2016 Junior Men’s Pan American Championship on Friday against Mexico at 2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET. The game will be live streamed here.
Click here for Canada’s schedule, results, and game recaps.