This article was originally written by Sarah Juggins and published on panamhockey.org. Photo by Yan Huckendubler.
Lauren Logush is a goalkeeper who wears many hats. Her club hockey is played for top Dutch side HDM den Haag, while she is also part of the Canadian women’s senior side. However, for the next few weeks, all her focus will be on representing the Canadian Junior women’s team as they travel to Trinidad and Tobago to take part in the Junior Women’s Pan American Championship.
Here, Lauren opens her heart on what it feels like to stand arm in arm with your team mates, why hockey has expanded her horizons and how Justin Bieber even tops the charts in the Netherlands.
Question: At what age were you selected for the national junior squad?
Lauren Logush: I was first selected back in the summer of 2010 at the age of 15 when Field Hockey Canada was restarting the U21 program. I was still rather new to the sport and flew out to Vancouver for the tryout camp, it was my first time playing on water based turf.
Q: How did you feel the first time you pulled on the Canadian shirt?
LL: The first time I wore the Maple Leaf was spring 2011 in a four game series against the USA down in San Diego. I was pretty nervous, which probably goes without saying, but more than anything I just really wanted to prove that I belonged there.
Q: What are your stand-out memories of that first game?
LL: I remember teammate and good friend Natalie Sourisseau crying because we had lost. And I just thought whoa, I don’t only want to play for Canada, I want to be successful with Canada.
Q: How has becoming an international player changed your life?
LL: Being an international player has completely changed the trajectory of my life. I moved from Toronto to Vancouver just after I turned 17 to be with the Canadian program, ultimately choosing to study at The University of British Columbia, where the team is centralized. This past summer I moved to The Netherlands to play club hockey as I believed it would be best for my hockey development. Without international hockey as a catalyst, there is no way I would become this weird West Coast/Dutch influenced girl. I have lived in and travelled to some vast places since becoming an international player.
Q: What are the positives and negatives of being part of the national team?
LL: There’s no better feeling than representing Canada and standing on the podium arm in arm with your teammates. And of course, who wouldn’t love to travel around the world, get a bunch of sweet clothes and a few extra Instagram followers! But, of course, it’s not really about that, and if it is, you won’t last long. I’ve come to realize that it’s a very special thing to care so deeply and be so motivated for something in life, especially when you’re sharing it with 25 or so other people. That being said, there are difficult elements of this lifestyle. There are no guarantees that you will be successful, a university degree takes longer, a full career is next to impossible, it’s difficult to maintain relationships, the usual sort of things.
Q: How do you find a balance between hockey and studying or a social life?
LL: I think one of the most important things is to have a life and interests outside of hockey. Balance is everything. Online courses have been extremely helpful, and it’s nice that a good chunk of my teammates are also in school. I’ve also been very fortunate to have some good friends outside of hockey as well as interests such as cycling, rock climbing, hiking, skiing and general outdoor activities along with intellectual pursuits like reading and writing. Being balanced avoids burnout, and I think you’re ultimately able to contribute more on the pitch if you’re a more fulfilled individual.
Q: What is a typical day for you in terms of training demands and how is this changing as the competition gets closer?
LL: I’m in a unique position as I’m living and playing in Holland, and typically have two types of days: training and non-training days. Let’s take a Tuesday. I’d probably wake up around 9:30-10am, have breakfast, drink coffee and do some online coursework. Fast forward to 3:30pm and I’d cycle to my club and train from 4-6pm. We then go inside and have a snack, followed by keepers training with Simon Zijp, who is the goalkeepers coach of the Dutch National Program and an all-around great guy. That lasts an hour from 7-8pm. After that, it’s another team session from 8-9:30pm. We shower while listening to a great Canadian artist known as Justin Bieber! Finally, we have dinner at the club and I either bike home, or get a ride with my teammate, Leonoor Schiphorst.
Thursdays are another double training day, Friday is a single and on Sunday we have a match. On a non-training day, I attempt some schoolwork or reading, go for a run, do some coaching or babysitting, go rock climbing, watch a documentary, or maybe go to the beach.
Q: What is your informal role within the squad?
LL: Well, I would be honoured if my teammates saw me as a leader, but I don’t particularly think that is a question for me to answer. I try to be pretty direct and honest, so I hope that they see me as a good confidant and someone to give advice. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to live out the values I believe in, and hopefully that’s a positive reflection for others to possibly follow or learn from.
Q: What is the reaction of your non-playing peers to your success on the sports field?
LL: They’re always really supportive and generally quite confused as to where I am in the world, what I’m doing there, or which team I’m playing with. It’s always really nice though, our lives are so often normalized that it’s refreshing to get a new or different perspective.
Q: What are your aims/hopes/ambitions for the Junior Pan-Ams?
LL: We want to be playing in that final. Yes, it’s an arduous task, but I don’t think there’s a point of going down unless we’re gunning to qualify for the World Cup. The biggest match will be the semi-final. Either we do some very strong work in our pool play against the USA or we prepare for a match against Argentina. Either way, we know we will be facing a tough opponent, so it comes down to us preparing to play a strong defensive game and capitalize offensively when we get the chances.
Q: Do you have a pre-match ritual to overcome nerves and get ready?
LL: For sure, I try to keep my pre-match routine consistent. I like to eat three to four hours before game time, followed by some visualization before we leave the hotel. I try to gradually ramp up my emotional intensity, so chill music until I start warming up then I increase the tempo. I like to feel light and smooth during warm up, and most importantly I keep everything as rhythmic as possible, which should lead into a smooth transition to the beginning of the match.
Q: With about a month to go, how are you feeling?
LL: I’m feeling quite strong, I think I’m playing the best hockey I’ve ever played. It’s going to be a long battle down there, and I’m confident that my preparation is going as well as I could have hoped.
Q: What is the difference between being part of the senior national squad and the junior squad?
LL: It can be very raw with the junior side, something I didn’t really realize it until I rejoined the junior program (after the couple years in between cycles). Most players on the senior team know what to expect and are used to touring, whereas with the junior team, we’ve got some kids who only left the country for the first time last month when we went to Chile. It’s cool to see that sort of appreciation and awe. The junior team also has a better taste in music!