When forward Nikki Woodcroft steps on to the field during the Canada-United States series in Chula Vista, California this week, not only will it be her first time playing with the senior Women’s National Team, it will be the first time she dons the red-and-white on the same team as her older sister Amanda.
The three-year age gap is not large enough to have precluded the Woodcroft sisters from playing sports on the same teams growing up; the two played field hockey, ice hockey and soccer as teammates in high school in Kitchener-Waterloo and even represented the University of Toronto Varsity Blues field hockey program at the same time.
But when it comes to Canada, they have only represent their country separately.
But Nikki, one of a handful of junior players who will make their senior debuts in the four game series with the United States, now gets her chance with the senior women.
“I’ve been working so hard,” she says. “I’m so excited to finally represent Canada at the senior level.”
The junior Woodcroft is coming off a successful tour representing Canada’s Under-21 team in Chile and she – along with Alexis de Armond and Rowan Harris – is expected to make her first senior appearance this week.
Amanda, the older of the two siblings, has been playing at the senior international level since late 2013 and in the summer of last year represented Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario, where she not only played in front of family and friends in her home province, but did so on her University’s home turf.
It was a special experience and one she won’t soon forget. Suiting for Canada alongside her sister will likely be one of those same memorable moments.
“Playing for Canada for the first time, that’s going to be an experience to remember for sure,” Amanda says. “I don’t think many people get that chance.”
“Hopefully moving forward, we can be every time we play together, in every game no matter what tournament or competition it is.”
As many younger siblings do, Nikki has looked up to Amanda and wanted to follow in her footsteps representing Canada. That was most evident to her when she watched her sister at the Pan Am Games last summer.
“Watching them at the Pan Ams last year was one of the most exciting and inspiring things to watch,” Nikki says.
And as they both chase the common goal of becoming Olympians, with the hope that they can do it together, like many sibling combinations, they share something that has been in the making for years and cannot be taught.
“They comfort and just knowing each other so well and knowing how each other plays,” Nikki adds. “I think we push each other too, to do better and be the best that we can be.”