Field Hockey Canada > Volunteer Yan Huckendubler continues to support field hockey growth in Canada

When Yan Huckendubler moved to Canada from his native France nearly thirty years ago, one of the first things he did was look for a field hockey club to join.

It was done as much out of habit as it was out of passion. For as long as he can remember, field hockey has been a part of Huckendubler’s life.

“It’s not a big sport in France. It’s a little bit like Canada in fact,” he explains from his home in Gatineau, Quebec. “You only played field hockey if somebody in your family or your friend plays.”

Huckendubler started playing field hockey in Paris when he was eleven years old. And in one way or another, he has been involved in the sport ever since.

But as any athlete will tell you, there comes a time to hang ‘em up. And Yan was no exception. Unlike many who may leave sport behind though, Yan has continued to become more and more involved in field hockey – as a volunteer – after his playing days.

After being part of the same Parisian club for twenty-five years, during which he played, umpired, organized, etc., upon arriving in Canada Huckendubler didn’t miss a stride.

Somehow I got in touch with Field Hockey Canada (FHC), at the time they were in Ottawa, and said I had some time on my hands and if you are looking for people to help just give me a call,” he recalls.

They did.

My first volunteer position was for the domestic competitions.”

And there have been many positions to follow. An I.T. engineer professionally, one of his volunteer roles had a large impact on the growth of Field Hockey Canada’s presence worldwide and online, and has stuck for the long run.

“At the time – in the early the 1990s – the Internet was starting and Field Hockey Canada didn’t have a website or e-mail,” he explains. “I thought as a project I could do a website.”

He was a pioneer of sorts in this area. While other national field hockey associations had websites, the way they were used was mainly for static purposes.

But when Huckendubler attended the Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands in 1998, he went above and beyond.

“I said since I’m there – I was planning to go on my own to enjoy the hockey – maybe I could try updating the website from out there; do a few reports, and take a few pictures,” he recalls of his plans.

“That was really the first time we did something special on the FHC website.”

And it was well received by fans of the sport back home, who had no other way of following a sport that was and still is lacking in coverage by the mainstream.

Since that first foray into the communication side of the sport, Yan has gone on to work as a media officer for Field Hockey Canada, the Pan American Hockey Federation, and Commonwealth Games Canada at various major events including the Olympic Games, World Cup and Commonwealth Games.

A lot of it has been done on his own time and own his dime, but for Huckendubler, the benefits significantly outweigh any costs associated with the years of volunteering he has done.

“Having the chance to go to the Olympics is something I’m still shaking my head at,” he says. “I grew up looking at the Olympics as the pinnacle of sport. Because I was involved with the Canadian team at the Pan Am Games in 1999 and they qualified, that allowed me to go with them to the 2000 Olympics. That stays with me as one of the heights of this whole time.”

With Canada’s men and women inching closer to qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Yan is looking forward to the chance to returning to the Olympics in some capacity.

And with all the time spent going to tournaments and taking in matches, having developed relationships over the years, the most important role he might have is as a fan.

“By going to tournaments and staying involved, first you get to know a lot of the athletes and the coaches,” he says. “You’re not exactly part of their community, but you get to know them so it’s quite an experience to see them grow through the years and become top athletes.”

But ask anyone who has dealt with Yan Huckendubler and they’ll tell you that while he hasn’t been on the pitch, he’s been as much a part of the team as anyone.