It’s getting to be crunch time. With only days to go before the beginning of the 2015 Pan American Games, Mississauga’s Devohn Noronha-Teixeira has had a lesson from his teammates about what is important when it comes to preparation.
“Every day at practice they ask me what the temperature (in Toronto) is like,” he says days before the Men’s National Team leaves Vancouver for Toronto. “But I’ve been training with them in Vancouver so I say ‘I’ve been here the whole time so I don’t know what to tell you’.”
As the lone athlete representing Ontario on the men’s Pan Am Games field hockey team, Noronha-Teixeira will be competing in his first major, multi-sport games for Canada literally in his own backyard.
That makes his position on the Pan Am Games team a unique one, and his opinion valued amongst his teammates.
“They also ask me what’s the buzz and how people are feeling about it,” he explains.
While Western Canadian communities – and by extension the Canadian Field Hockey Teams, who train in Vancouver – may not yet feel the buzz of the Pan Am Games, as Eastern Canadian communities may not have felt the 2010 Olympic buzz from Vancouver until the Games actually began and were broadcast nationwide, there certainly is anticipation.
Canada hosting an event of this magnitude is rare, and for any athlete, competing on home soil is even more so.
For a handful of athletes and their families, there was even more excitement when the Canadian Pan Am Games field hockey teams were named.
“My mom might have cried a little when she saw it,” says Waterloo, Ontario’s Amanda Woodcroft, who is one of three women on the Pan Am Games team who are from Ontario. “Everyone is really proud and they’re all going to come watch and I’m super excited about that.”
With both teams training in Vancouver full-time and often oversees in competition, the opportunity to watch Canada compete in Canada, let alone Ontario, is infrequent at best.
“It’s getting more and more exciting as we get closer and closer to the event, because everybody is calling me and saying ‘are you playing?,’” says Noronha-Teixeira, who has recently become a staple on the Canadian roster. “I actually get to say yes for the first time in my life.”
While Canada is home to all the athletes wearing the red-and-white, the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding Ontario communities are where Noronha-Teixeira, Woodcroft, Kate Gillis (Kingston), and Brienne Stairs (Kitchener) grew up, making these Pan Am Games truly a home games.
“It’ll get the adrenaline going and I’ll want to play well for my family and friends,” Woodcroft explains. “Just the being there will excite me even more.”
That feeling will be mutual, as family and friends will also know that seeing Canada play on home soil is an experience they will remember for years to come.