In three weeks, when Canada’s women’s field hockey team will take to the pitch at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Rachel Donohoe hopes to be there.
It would be a special opportunity for her, being from the area.
“The possibility of playing in my backyard is completely surreal because girls don’t get this opportunity often,” explains the native North Vancouver, BC. “Especially playing on a field that I grew up playing on when I was younger.”
But as recently as last year, that possibility did not look like it would be in the cards for Donohoe, who was not a part of the Women’s National Program.
After winning a silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games, and then making the jump to the Senior Team in 2012, Donohoe found herself on the outside looking in at the end of 2014.
That’s when she decided to go to Germany to play club hockey with Alster.
“The plan at the beginning was very unknown,” she explains. “I didn’t know if I was going to last until December or if I was going to last longer than that.”
She lasted a full season, from August 2015 to July 2016, and came back extremely fulfilled.
“I thought Germany was going to be my final big hurrah with competitive field hockey, and school was going to be my focus.”
And if it wasn’t Germany, the 2016 season with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds would have been the perfect swan song for Donohoe, who had planned to pursue nursing after her last year at UBC.
Donohoe was a part of the Thunderbirds team that won a sixth straight National Championship, and was named the Canada West Most Valuable Player in the process.
If moving on from field hockey was the intent, a wildly successful final season with UBC could have been all Donohoe needed to walk away from the competitive side of the game.
But instead, her plans changed.
“As time passed, I realized that I would regret not trying one more time with the National Team,” she explains. “And I was lucky enough to get the opportunity from Ian (Rutledge, Women’s National Team Head Coach) and Steph (Andrew, Assistant Coach) to trial for the National Team.”
And it was a successful one.
Donohoe was named to the 2015-2016 Women’s Senior Development Squad, and with World League Round 2 in West Vancouver right around the corner in April and with it the possibility of playing here at home, her field hockey career has been given a second wind.
And while her inclusion on the team that will compete in West Vancouver from April 1-9 is not guaranteed, it is her approach that cements in her mind that she is ready to continue on her journey as an international field hockey player.
“Based on the experience I’ve gone through, I’ve developed a more positive outlook,” she explains. “If I don’t get the opportunity, it’s unfortunate, but I’ll look forward towards the next selection.”
Canada opens World League Round 2 at home against Mexico on April 1 at 4:30pm local time.