The 1983 Women’s National Team is the winningest team in Canadian hockey history. They were at the peak of their decade-long success and won the silver medal at the 1983 Women’s Hockey World Cup in Malaysia. This year. This week, the 1983 Women’s National Team becomes the second-ever team to be inducted into the Field Hockey Canada Hall of Fame.
Coached by Marina van der Merwe and Kathy Broderick, this team saw unprecedented success throughout the 1970s into the 1980s. Van der Merwe was at the helm for six World Cup runs and three Olympic Games. She was known for her imagination, ingenuity and toughness. Suffice to say, this team was stacked with talent, skill and athleticism, the 1983 squad included the likes of other hall of fame inductees such as Sharon Creelman, Sheila Forshaw, Shelley Winter Andrews and Nancy Mollenhauer.
Mollenhauer, at the time, one of the younger players on the team, recalls that era of success and spoke of that 1983 season where the team centralized in Australia before heading to Malaysia for the World Cup. According to Mollenhauer, her and her teammates didn’t know what to expect coming into the tournament and it was challenging in the Malaysian climate.
“You know, getting ourselves not only physically prepared for the challenge of the heat in Malaysian humidity but also the challenge of going into a World Cup,” said Mollenhauer. “That was the first kick at the can for myself. So I really had no idea what to expect. But I was along for the ride and enjoyed absolutely every minute of it.”
Winter Andrews was also inducted into the hall of fame this month in the athlete category, but the team induction has a more special feeling to it than the individual recognition.
“To be inducted with the 1983 team., to me that is the nicest thing about this whole thing because field hockey is a team sport,” said Andrews. “It always kind of amazes me that you have individuals who are honoured and selected and that kind of thing, when really without that team or those people around you…”
At the 1983 World Cup, Canada finished at the top of their pool after wins against West Germany, USSR and Argentina. They then went on to upset Australia on penalties in the semi-finals before losing to the Netherlands 4-2 in the gold medal match.
Reflecting on her time with the 1983 team, Mollenhauer said there were hard times and great times but overall, the team was amazing and she loved her time on and off the field.
“I look back at it with great fondness,” said Mollenhauer. “I had a great time, and in the end, it just worked out that we managed to get through and win that semi-final game and get into the final and it was absolutely fantastic.”
The induction of the 1983 World Cup team is a celebration of their success and achievement of the highest ranking of any Canadian field hockey team to this day.