Izzy Fraser is one of two players who will be making their senior national team debut in the new year in Chile. Photo/FHC
Seventeen-year-old, Izzy Fraser was sitting in the bleachers at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver last summer when Chile and Canada faced off at World League Round 2. Now she’ll be joining the Women’s National Team (WNT) on their first tour of 2018 in Santiago, Chile.
“Less than a year ago, I was watching those two teams play and now I have the opportunity to play in those matches. It’s crazy to think about that,” Fraser said.
In search of warm weather and international competition experience, the WNT will head south to Chile in January for a two-week training tour. The team will depart for Santiago on January 17, 2018 and return on January 30, 2018.
The coaching staff has selected 20 athletes for the tour. The team, top-to-bottom, reflects a similar group that closed out last season’s Pan American Cup with a few roster changes. The team will have a short turnaround before heading out to San Diego for their second training tour leading up to the Commonwealth Games, taking place in Qeensland, Australia in April.
With 13 players aged 25 or younger, this is a young group, growing and progressing together. Fraser and Sara Goodman are the two youngest players on the team and will embark on their first senior national team tour in the new year. According to assistant coach, Steph Andrews, the team is coming off an intensive training block and is looking forward to the competition.
“This is an opportunity to get out of the cold winter weather. It’s the first training tour of the year where we can bring all players, including our over-seas players, together in preparation for the Commonwealth Games,” Andrews said.
Although last year could be viewed as somewhat of a disappointment, with the WNT failing to advance past World League Round 2 and qualify for the World Cup, Andrews said the team is more motivated and has made huge strides since then.
“Sometimes when you face adversity, it can be really good for the team. World League was an eye-opener for the team,” Andrews said. “The Pan Am Cup was a big turnaround, as we started to play the way we wanted to play. Now, we’ve come off a big training block and are moving into 2018 competition.”
Andrews, also the head coach of the women’s Junior Development Squad, has had an opportunity to watch the youth in the country develop over the past few years. Both Fraser and Goodman are products of the Field Hockey Canada junior development pathway and according to Andrews, both are ready to take the next step.
“They’ve progressed well in the junior pathway. It will be really great to get them some international senior experience,” she said.
Fraser is currently in Grade 12 at Magee Secondary School in Vancouver where she is enrolled in the SPARTS athletics program focusing part-time on academics and part-time training with the WNT. For her, the chance to train with the national team has been incredible learning experience.
“Even just in our first training block, I’ve already learned so much,” Fraser said. “I’m looking forward to developing further and continuing to bond as a team.”
Fraser has been playing above her age bracket since she was selected for the BC regional team as a 13-year old. Fraser followed a pathway that included club and high school field hockey and playing in the Field Hockey BC regional program. She said she has been fortunate to play with and against current national team players, such as Shanlee Johnston and Hannah Haughn, for the past several years and looks up to them as role models.
“I have always admired Hannah Haughn. Her speed and tenacity on the field,” Fraser said. “It makes me want to be a player with that kind of skill and physical strength.”
Andrews said Fraser is well on her way to gaining that strength and physicality.
“She’s physically strong. That’s one thing that has always stood out watching her play. No matter who she’s playing against, she always gives it a go, she’s always aggressive,” Andrews said.
Sara Goodman is in first year at UBC and is fresh off a U SPORTS McCrae Cup title. In addition to her responsibility to the Thunderbirds, Goodman has also been training full-time with the WNT. She said the experience has been amazing so far and she’s looking forward to more.
“The level the team trains at was like nothing I had experienced before; they come in with such a strong mentality every day,” Goodman said. “The girls are so supportive and I’m very happy to be training with the team.”
A native of Cowichan, BC, and another Field Hockey BC athlete, Goodman has been a part of the national junior development pathway for several years and is now making the jump to the senior team. She recalls her experience with the JDS and learning from experienced national team members helped inspire her to reach the next level.
“I remember when Kate Gillis, Thea Cully and Dani Hennig spoke to us [JDS], it must have been my first of second camp. The way they spoke about the program, it really sparked my desire to get involved,” she said.
It’s a few years later now and Goodman is going on her first international tour with the senior team. Assistant coach, Andrews, said with players like Fraser and Goodman coming into the program, the future of the WNT looks bright.
“She has really grown and progressed through the junior development program,” Andrews said. “This is another player who you will want to keep your eyes on moving forward.”
With an average age of 23, this young core group of Team Canada athletes is building towards a successful Commonwealth Games, all the while, keeping an overarching eye on a major upcoming milestone: Tokyo 2020.
Women’s National Team – 2018 Chile Tour Roster