PHOTO: Hannah Haughn carries the ball in Canada’s pre-World League 2 test match vs Chile on March 22, 2017 (By Blair Shier)
The importance of Gryphon Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver is well-documented. The top two nations move on to the World League Semi-Final this summer, where spots for the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup are up for grabs.
But with the tournament being hosted in British Columbia, there is much more at stake.
Midfielder Hannah Haughn knows exactly what kind of impact having a tournament of this magnitude hosted in West Vancouver can have.
“I think whether we like it or not, as elite athletes we are role models,” says the 22 native of North Vancouver, who grew up playing her club hockey with the West Vancouver Field Hockey Club. “Having the opportunity to play here and potentially spark interest in younger athletes is a really great opportunity for us and not one that we get very often.”
But when that opportunity comes around, the payoff can be immense.
Haughn herself is in part the by-product of the last time a competition with this stature and implication was held in B.C.
In 2008 – as a 12 year-old just about to go to high school – Haughn’s parents took her and her older sister to an Olympic qualifying event being held in Victoria and featuring Canada’s women’s field hockey team.
“My sister and I were both field hockey fans at the time, but we had never seen an international event before,” she says.
“I didn’t even know it was an Olympic sport at that point.”
But seeing the event, and the high level of play, quickly opened her eyes to the possibilities.
As she looks back, Haughn realizes that it was not only then that she began to think about a career in field hockey, but it was also she became aware of the ability for elite athletes to make a difference in the lives of young ones.
“I was definitely one of those kids at the end of the game begging the Canadian team for their autographs. It was definitely the first time I even considered playing at an elite level. It was definitely inspiring to see some of the older girls there.”
One of the “older girls” there was a young Kate Gillis, who is the only member of that 2008 team currently still with the Canadian Women’s National Team.
In fact, Gillis – who now goes by the name Wright after marrying fellow field hockey player and former Men’s National Team member Philip Wright – is the team’s captain, most experienced player, and third in all-time games played for the Women’s National Team with 162 senior games played.
And 9 years ago, whether she intended to or not, Gillis had a hand in pushing one of the team’s future stars in the direction of playing field hockey for Canada.
“One of the only memories from that tournament in 2008 is a small flag that I have that was up on my wall for a really long time,” Haughn explains. “She (Gillis) was one of the only players that was willing to give me an autograph. That is definitely a significant thing in my field hockey career.
After that experience, Haughn’s rise in Canadian field hockey was quick.
About a year later, she played her first international game for Canada’s jwomen at the Junior Pan American Championships at the age of 14.
She then went to become the youngest Canadian women to reach 100 senior international games and has played at many of the sport’s premiere events such as the Pan Am Games, Commonwealth Games, and World League Semi-Finals.
Now, Haughn is set to represent Canada at Gryphon Hockey World League Round 2 in her hometown and at her home field, with the chance to inspiring the next generation of Canadian hockey players.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet I don’t think. To be able to play at my home club is incredible.”
“We’re really looking forward to playing here and having my family and friends come out.
Canada opens World League Round 2 on Saturday, April 1st at 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET against Mexico.
Gryphon Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. Additionally, we would like to thank the Province of British Columbia and viaSport for their generous support of this project.
The West Vancouver Field Hockey Club is also proud partner of this event.