Many field hockey players grow up dreaming of playing at the international level for their country. This week, Anna Mollenhauer and Elise Wong will have that opportunity.
After playing USPORTS and NCAA hockey respectively, Mollenhauer and Wong have been given the opportunity to play for Team Canada at the 2019 Hockey Series Finals in Valencia, Spain. Both Wong and Mollenhauer have test-tour experience but the Hockey Series final will be their first major competition with the senior national team. Being the youngest of the Canadian players participating in the tournament, Mollenhauer is eager, and ready to take the next step, and represent her country on the international stage.
“The chance to wear the Maple Leaf, It’s always an amazing opportunity,” said Mollenhauer. “It’s very exciting to be here. It’s an amazing learning experience.”
Although she is excited for this tournament, she is also looking forward to more opportunities down the line in her career with Field Hockey Canada assuming all goes well.
“The Olympics have always been a dream of mine. But really at this point, I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to play at the national team level and the chance to keep improving,” said Mollenhauer during an interview at training camp two weeks ago. “Maybe one day, go to a multi-sport event. I’d really like to do that.”
Elise Wong (left/right) and Anna Mollenhauer (middle) are prepared and excited to get started at the 2019 Hockey Series Finals in Valencia, Spain. Photos/Kevin Underhill, Emma Van Mol, Yan Huckendubler
A current University of Victoria player, Mollenhauer is looking to build on her family’s legacy, while creating a name for herself. Her mother, Nancy Mollenhauer, is a former team Canada player herself, and a 2015 inductee to the Canadian Field Hockey Hall of Fame. Although competing at the highest level is a tough challenge, Anna has the support and backing of her family.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking playing in this new environment. The level is a huge step up from university to the national team,” said Mollenhauer. “I always like to talk to my parents before games to help calm me down. It’s a lot of mental focus as well as the physical preparation.”
Wong, on the other hand, played NCAA field hockey at Princeton University, and is thankful for the opportunity she had in the United States, but is ready for the increase in competition playing at the international level.
“I’m very grateful to have played four years of NCAA hockey with Princeton, they have been great developmental years for me,” said Wong. “It’s been a great help to have played with great coaches and players, and it prepared me well for this.”
Being two of the youngest players on this team, they are both looking to begin their journey with Team Canada, and it all starts with the Hockey Series Finals. Although this will be their first big taste of international hockey, they have a veteran support group that will aim to get the best out of their two young players.
“Growing up, I looked up to a ton of the players on the team,” said Mollenhauer. “It’s kind of a surreal experience being able to play with them and train with them on a daily basis. It’s really exciting and a huge honour and privilege being able to represent my country.”
Defensive veteran Dani Hennig has 183 international caps for team Canada, and feels that Mollenhauer and Wong are ready to make this leap to the big stage.
“The two of them really performed well during those last few weeks in Europe and our test-series in Scotland,” said Hennig during an interview at UVic training camp at the beginning of June. “They slotted in with the group really well and complemented the team’s style of play well and definitely earned their spot.”
The tournament gets underway tomorrow at 10am PDT when Canada goes up against the host nation Spain. Both Mollenhauer and Wong will look to get a good start at their first major international tournament for team Canada.