Photo: Yan Huckendubler
By Ali Baggot for Field Hockey Canada
Lima, PERU – It’s not always just athletes that get to shine on the international stage at multi-sport events like the Pan American Games. The 2019 edition sees six Canadian field hockey members proudly representing Canada not as players, but as part of the officials team. Two umpires, an umpire manager, one technical official and two members of the media team are contributing to the sport of field hockey at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games.
On the pitch Canadian umpires Megan Robertson, from Vancouver, and Tyler Klenk, from Saskatchewan, join an elite crew of umpires who work together on and off the pitch, much like the teams.
“I am so proud to be Canadian and it’s something that I take very seriously representing my country and myself,” said Robertson, who will surpass 50 international caps in Lima. “There is an opportunity to show what Canada is about when you travel to these international places and Canada has a good international reputation. People are happy to meet Canadians and I want to do that history and legacy proud.”
Robertson is at her second Pan American Games following her 2015 debut, while she also has been appointed to a Junior Pan American Games and an Asian Games.
“Being here definitely shows the progress have made from where I started,” said men’s umpire Tyler Klenk, who is making his first appearance at the Pan American Games. “It’s a good split here of experience in older, knowledgeable umpires and some new, up-and-coming umpires. I think I fall in the middle as I’m young by age but also have had some good experience. I can learn from Peter and Gus in the older group and also help share and develop some of the younger umpires as well.”
Twenty-six-year-old Klenk is among a men’s umpire group that includes South African umpire Peter Wright who is fresh off the 2018 World Cup and FIH Pro League, as well as USA’s Gus Soteriades who nears his 100th international cap at this tournament. The learnings here are both for Klenk individually but also for young, aspiring Canadian officials back home.
“Being here shows other Canadian umpires that may not be internationally badged quite yet that there are lots of events and opportunities for Canadian umpires,” adds Klenk, who highlights appearances heading in to these games include the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2017 Asia Cup and 2017 Pan American Cup. “Any time you can do this shows the field hockey world shows that Canada is a country not to be over looked whether that be as umpires, technical officials or players.”
Also in the umpiring mix is Calgary’s Wendy Stewart, who ended her prolific international umpiring career after the 2014 FIH World Cup and XX Commonwealth Games. Stewart, who also umpired at the 2012 Olympic Games, has since been an umpires manager, there to support and help coach umpires at the tournament. Together with another well-known and retired international umpire Soledad Iparraguirre, from Argentina, the duo serve as the women’s umpire managers at the Lima Pan American Games. Stewart rolled right in to her umpire manager career in December 2014 and has since been appointed to the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, the 2016 women’s Junior World Cup, the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final in Belgium, the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup and various FIH Pro League events.
“It’s a lot of fun to come to these tournaments and meet new people and learn new things to take back to share with people back in Canada,” remarked Laurie Hogan, who is in Lima as a technical officer. “As a technical official I am a match manager. As soon as warm up starts I’m in charge of everything to make sure the game starts on time, the team benches are managed well, understanding the goal scorers are known, the clocks are running correctly and so basically, I would be in charge of everything until the whistle blows. Then, the umpires take over the field but I still have to manage what’s happening outside of the field.”
Hogan, who hails from Wolfe Island, Ontario, was appointed as a judge at the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games, while she has also had technical experience at the 2017 Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver and the 2018 Youth Pan American Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“I started doing this because I was passionate about this sport and where it took me in life. I’m a very organized person and I like working with others. If that sounds like you and you understand the sport of field hockey and you are confident in the rules and you can explain yourself to others you should definitely come join me as a technical official.”
Rounding out the Canadian contingent in Lima are media officer Ali Baggott, from Victoria, representing the Pan American Hockey Federation to help with the digital communications for the tournament, as well as long-time Canadian hockey supporter and media expert Yan Huckendubler from Chelsea, Quebec. Huckendubler is also in Lima representing PAHF as the tournament photographer, actively catching every moment on and off the field to ensure the athletes and fans have permanent memories from these games.
Action at the Pan American Games runs from July 29 to August 10 with the men and women alternating competition days.