On the Road to Tokyo, we will be spotlighting young blood on the Men’s National Team and their journeys from the junior to senior level. As baby Red Caribou, their stories are a signal of what hard work and perseverance can lead to, and can be a source of inspiration to us all on our own pathways.
Fin Boothroyd was eight years old when he first started playing field hockey at West Vancouver FHC, a club that his grandfather Lawrence co-founded. His mother was heavily involved; his oldest sister played; his dad coached: it was only natural for him to join at a young age and flow through the junior club system as part of his athlete pathway.
After playing at the provincial level for a few years, Boothroyd was scouted by the Junior National Team where he went on to play at 2016 Junior Pan Am Games and Junior World Cup. Fast forward to 2019, Boothroyd made his first senior international appearance just weeks after his 20th birthday at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
With 23 caps now under his belt, he recalls the exact moment he learned of his appointment to the Senior Development Squad — the beginning of it all.
“I was copied into a few of the emails with the senior team staff and I just kind of brushed through a list on an email chain,” Boothroyd explained. “I wasn’t really thinking because it wasn’t [addressed to me], and I remember reading through and seeing a couple of my teammates from the Junior World Cup team on there and then scrolling down to Boothroyd.
“It’s funny because, for forever, I’ve been called ‘Fin’ but my legal name is John Boothroyd. So my name on the list was ‘John’ and I had to do a double take like, ‘holy smokes, that’s me.’”
After his first training session with the squad, Boothroyd would soon realize it as his ‘moment,’ knowing that others were seeing value in him as a player. Over the next three years, the lessons would also prove to be invaluable.
“The most immediate and obvious difference for me was the pace of play when you get up into the senior level,” he said. “The mistakes are amplified so it was pretty intimidating for the first few games until you get the chance to build your confidence and understand what to do and when.”
Fin Boothroyd celebrating his goals in a friendly against Belgium on 05.18.21 (Photos: Emma Van Mol)
Looking at Boothroyd’s career thus far, it’s hard to imagine that he had other plans in mind as a kid. In fact, he wanted to play professional ice hockey for the NHL until he saw firsthand how much he and his teammates enjoyed the sport. From there, he simply progressed faster at field hockey and realized it was his shot to play for Canada.
One of his most special moments was returning to his home-field at Rutledge and playing in the iconic 2019 Olympic Qualifiers, when Canada secured its Tokyo 2020 berth.
He said, “My grandpa started that club, and it’s a field I travelled to many times growing up playing in West Vancouver. Playing with my club team, provincial team, and then to have that opportunity in front of my friends and the community was a really wonderful moment. It wasn’t lost on me then, but I feel really privileged to have helped qualify Canada at home.”
“He was an Olympian, and then a double Olympian, and those are things that I really like to do with my life as well.”
When asked about his journey to the present, Boothroyd mentions Men’s National Team veteran Mark Pearson as somebody who has inspired him along the way. Pearson had coached his club team in the years prior and gave Boothroyd a clear vision of where his career could go.
“In my formative years for field hockey, I started to put myself in Mark’s shoes. He’s from Tsawwassen and grew up playing in the club systems in Delta and I could see his path. I could see myself at the start of the path that he took and what he was doing at that time. He was an Olympian, and then a double Olympian, and those are things that I really like to do with my life as well.”
Coming off last month’s Europe tour and heading into the summer, Boothroyd hopes to finish his degree at UBC before eyeing opportunities overseas. He was also recently named to the 18-person roster heading to Chile for the Junior Pan American Championship this August.
“After the Olympics, I have one semester of school left and then I really want to play somewhere in Europe and get professional club experience since I’ve heard really good things. I went to England last September before the season got shut down prematurely [due to COVID-19], so having another stab at it would be nice.
“Any athlete at a high level will tell you that what they love to do the most is perform, and a really valued perspective for me is having that realization that people appreciate the sport we play outside of just North America.”