After a busy year and a short break, the Canadian women’s field hockey team is back in Vancouver training.
The team kicked off its 2016 campaign with fitness and strength testing at the Richmond Olympic Oval this week and hits the field later this week. But before getting lost in training and tours, the team was given a clear reminder of what it’s playing for at its first team outing.
Monday after testing, the women visited the Richmond Olympic Experience (ROX), a new Olympic museum situated at the Oval. It was the perfect way to keep an eye on the prize.
“That’s the goal, to make it to the Olympics and leave that legacy for generations to come,” says veteran goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams. “I can’t think of anything more exciting than that.”
The ROX is part of the International Olympic Committee’s network of official Olympic museums, and is the first and only site in North America.
It consists of interactive media and memorabilia from both Canadian and international Olympic history, as well as Olympic and Paralympic sport simulators. The experience is centered around the ideas of achieving a dream and becoming a hero.
Watch the Women’s National Team visit the Richmond Olympic Experience:
“It was very inspiring and motivating,” adds Williams. “The video we watched at the beginning – ‘chasing a dream’ is the theme of it – it’s exactly what we’re doing. It gave me goose bumps.”
For the Women’s National Team, which is narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, talk of the Olympics could be taken as a reminder of what did not become.
Instead, the team is focused on what they achieved in the 2015: bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto, the first time a Canadian women’s team has medaled at the Games since 1999. They’re also focused on what they’re primed to achieve in 2020.
“It’s not tough to stay motivated,” says midfielder Natalie Sourisseau. “It’s almost easier to stay motivated because of that sting of not making the Olympics and how tough that felt and tough it still feels. That definitely motivates you because you never want to feel that again.”
Sourisseau’s drive was on full display on the first day of testing, as she was the longest lasting athlete in the YoYo test which measures aerobic conditioning.
“Especially coming off a big break and travelling for six weeks, I was very happy to get that score,” she says.
The women get back on the field on Thursday with their first of two on-field training sessions this week at the University of British Columbia’s Wright Field.
They will train in Vancouver until February when they head to San Diego for a test series against the United States, the team got the better of them in the Pan Am Game semifinal and went on to win gold and secure an Olympic berth.
“Last year just left us all wanting more,” says Williams. “That’s kind of hard. You finish on such a high note and then you have nothing. You have a break. It’s just that itch to kind of get back at it, to train again.”
The women have a year full of quality training and competition. They are scheduled to take on many of the world’s top teams and work towards further demonstrating that Canadian women are on the rise.