PHOTO: Canadian women’s team veterans Thea Culley (left) and Katie Baker (right)
Two Canadian Women’s National Team alumni are coming out of retirement, albeit temporarily, just in time to send the Women’s National Team off to the 2017 Pan American Cup.
Women’s National Team veterans Thea Culley and Katie Baker will be hitting the turf once again wearing the red and white in the Women’s Super Series on July 11, 13, and 19 (7pm at Wright Field).
The Super Series is the last game action the Women’s National Team will have before the squad competes in the 2017 Pan American Cup from August 5-13, and the long-time Women’s National Team veterans Culley and Baker, who previously combined for 271 games played for Canada, will be there to ramp up the competition in the lead-up.
“I’m hoping that with the games next week with I can provide a high level of play that will prepare them for the Pan Am Cup,” Baker says. “It’s always good to play against people you haven’t played against before or not very often instead of the same players all the time.”
And apart from a select few veterans on the team, not many have played with Baker who retired in 2012.
Baker served the Women’s National Team for a total of six years, leading most of that time as a passionate Team Captain. Sitting five years into retirement on the edge of her return, Baker’s homecoming is half déjà-vu, half fired up.
“It’s a little bit of a funny feeling going back into that level again, it’s been a while. But I’m just feeling overall excitement…I’m excited to help out in this capacity and it’s great to get back out on the pitch.”
Unlike Baker, Thea Culley retired from international hockey just under a year ago. Culley lay her jersey to rest in September of 2016, but she was never far from the program. She still sits on the Field Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors – a post she also held as a player – to ensure the next generation of National players reach their fullest.
“A substantial part of my adult life has been dedicated to making Canada a better field hockey nation – and that doesn’t just go away,” Culley says. “I have this desire in me that I want to make the program better for those who come next.”
Culley is now taking that enthusiasm and drive back to the field where she shares the same dreams as the Women’s Team athletes: qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.
“I was unfortunately not able to qualify for the Olympics or play in a World Cup during my time on the team. I want to make sure the next team is in the best position possible to qualify for Tokyo and the World Cup,” Culley explains. “If they can qualify it’s going to be a huge win for the program and those individual athletes will be able to realize a big part of their dream as athletes.”
You can catch Katie and Thea’s return to the Women’s National Team July 11, 13, 19 on Wright Field at the University of British Columbia at 7:00pm.
Canada’s Women open the 2017 Pan American Cup against the Dominican Republic August 5th at 9am PT/12pm ET. For more Canada’ schedule, results and recaps, click here.