PHOTO: Paul Wharton carries the ball against Mexico at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario (By Yan Huckendubler)
Paul Wharton always knew there was more to his life than field hockey.
After 60 senior games played for the Canadian men’s field hockey team, the midfielder from Vancouver, British Columbia recently retired from international play to pursue a career in finance.
“I have always been really passionate about field hockey,” Wharton says. “But also I have had other passions. I’ve always been interested in economics, and finance, and world news.”
Before making the decision, Wharton took a year off from the National Program to make sure it was the right move for him.
And once he completed his university degree and was offered an internship with a boutique investment bank in New York – where his dad lives and his girlfriend also was offered an internship at the Museum of Modern Art – Wharton’s path was clear.
“New York was a place where both of us could work because we had citizenship and a place where both of us wanted to work,” he explains. “The only thing holding me back was whether I was going to be play hockey or not. And in the end, it just made sense to stop.”
Wharton cites his first senior game in 2012 and the 2015 World League Semi-Final, both played in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as career highlights.
He also represented Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. On the junior side of things, Wharton also represented Canada at the 2013 Junior World Cup in India.
At that 2015 competition Buenos Aires, in a match against perennial rival and host Argentina, Wharton exemplified the intangibles that he brought to the team, according to Men’s National Team interim head coach Paul Bundy.
“Paul Wharton was probably one of the hardest working players we had,” Bundy says. “He was also one of the bravest players we’ve ever had. He kind of re-defined how we run the penalty corner in terms of the number one runner.
“There were many games and many drag flickers that he ran down. That game against Argentina where we lost 2-1, he ran down (Gonzalo) Peillat [who is considered the world’s best drag flicker] I think it was nine times.”
Bundy adds that Wharton was a quintessential team-first guy, which has already proven beneficial in his new endeavour.
“I’ve learned so much about the business world through being on a team,” Wharton says. “It’s all really the same thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an office or you’re on the field.
“The teamwork is a really valuable component of who I am. So, I am very thankful for the five years I played on the National Team because it taught me a lot about myself and it taught me a lot of about being in a team environment.”
His attitude and work ethic will undoubtedly serve him well in the financial sector, which will likely at times feel just as competitive as an international field hockey match.
But Wharton would not have it any other way.
“I never would have thought I would be here in New York working at a finance company. But here I am and I haven’t really looked back.”
Except for in the moments when his former teammates, some of which he has played with since childhood, experience the highs that come with having success on the field, which recently came in the form of achieving 2018 World Cup qualification by beating India and finishing 4th at the World League Semi-Final in London.
“I’m not going to lie, it is a little bittersweet because I know that feeling of what it’s like to qualify for the Olympics or a big sporting event like that and I can only imagine how awesome it is for them,” he says.
“But I’m very happy for the guys. I’ve grown up playing with all these guys for the last 10 or 15 years for some of them. So I almost feel like I’m sharing it with them, even though I’m not really. I definitely am living vicariously through them.”
That’s when he’s not living his new life in the Big Apple.