PHOTO: University of Waterloo Warriors goalkeeper Hilary Neeb was one of a group of goalkeepers who spent a week with Canada’s Women’s National Program getting goalkeeper specific instruction.
By many accounts, Waterloo Warriors goalkeeper Hilary Neeb has had a successful field hockey career.
This year, to cap off her University career, which saw her play five seasons with the University of Waterloo, Neeb was named the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) goalkeeper of the year for the second straight season.
But despite the accolades, Neeb concedes her game has been lacking one important thing.
“I have gone basically my whole goalie career not getting a lot of coaching, just here and there,” she says. “I’ve never been to a camp or anything.”
But that changed this week, as Neeb was part of a group of goalkeepers who were selected to take part in a goalkeeper camp hosted by Canada’s Women’s National Program and held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
It was a long way to travel for the native of Wellesley, a town with a population of approximately 11,000 people which is located North West of Kitchener, Ontario.
But the cross-country trip was well worth it, according to Neeb.
“I was really looking forward to getting more technical coaching, working on things that are more difficult to learn without a goalkeeper coach,” she explains.
“I’ve been trying to learn these things on my own and teaching myself. But it’s hard when you don’t have someone constantly reminding you when you do things right or wrong.
“So it’s been amazing to be able to see the improvement right away and being able to work on that because of the feedback we’ve been getting.”
In addition to multiple on-field, goalkeeper only sessions with Women’s National Team Assistant Coach and Junior Head Coach Steph Andrews, the trio of keepers concluded the Camp by joining on Senior Women’s Training, taking drills with Canada’s netminders Kaitlyn Williams and Rowan Harris.
“I know when I was coming through the program, you look at the little details and all of the little things that the goalies are doing,” says Harris, who recently made a quick rise from the Junior to Senior international ranks.
“I would follow mostly by example, and picking up cues based on what they’re doing and following their intensity, and the drive that they bring to practice.
“When we’re paired up with other goalies, it’s just making sure that everything – kind of as usual – every little thing is tight.”
And the guest goalies took notice.
“I’m a visual learner, so I love watching other people perform,” Neeb adds. “Seeing them play first hand and getting tips from them and encouragement from them, it means so much and you learn so much from watching them.”
“It just really helps us grow as younger goalies who maybe don’t have much National experience.”
And in addition to getting National level coaching and improving their abilities, attending the Camp also gives the keepers exposure to National level hockey.
“I’ve been really been wanting to move forward in the next step, and really the only step from University is National level,” Neeb says. “So at any form it would be so exciting to get any opportunity, and that’s why I was so excited to come here because it’s just one more opportunity.”