Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hockey in Prince Edward Island

Abbey MacLellan, PAHF Local Correspondent

On the East Coast of Canada, there is a small island called Prince Edward Island. 
    PEI is known for its potatoes, seafood, and Anne of Green Gables. Although, something you may not know, is that field hockey on the island is growing rapidly. Every year, more and more athletes are picking up field hockey sticks and giving it a try.
        In Prince Edward Island, there is a junior high and high school league during the fall, and a successful summer and winter program. 
     Lately, there has been a boom in popularity of the sport among teenage athletes with over 250 students, 10 school teams and a lot of players keeping up their skills year round with the winter/summer programs.
     June 15-16 this year, many field hockey players from across the Maritimes were given the opportunity to receive a clinic from Gene Muller. Gene is the General Manager of Field Hockey Canada High Performance and in the past, has coached multiple countries’ national teams. 

     The players learned many new techniques such as advanced ball and stick positioning, different hits, etc. Clinics have been few and far between for years, but with more island players, more opportunities are happening for field hockey athletes.
     Island field hockey players have a lot to look forward to this summer. July 12-14 will be an exciting weekend here in PEI as they are hosting the U-18 Eastern Regional Tournament with teams from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI. This year, PEI is also fortunate enough to send two teams to national competitions this coming summer. 

    An U-18 team will be representing PEI in Vancouver, British Columbia, and an U-16 team will be competing in Brampton, Ontario. 
     Last year, was the first in a long time (more than 5 years) for PEI to send a young team to a national tournament. They came 6th out of 9that the U18 tournament in Calgary, Alberta, in July 2012.
    Field Hockey PEI’s President and General Manager of the University of Prince Edward Island field hockey team; Barb Carmichael was asked about field hockey growth in PEI. Her thoughts were: “True field hockey in PEI is growing very quickly once again. It has been an up and down road over the last 40 years. In the 1980’s and 90’s field hockey was very strong in PEI.

     Our Senior Provincial Team placed 4th at Senior Nationals in 1983, two players from that team went on to be National and Olympic players (Donna Phillips and Kathryn MacDougall). The Canada Games team placed 6th in 1993, and even though the sport was slowly dying, our Canada Games Team placed 5th in 2005 (the highest placing of any Island team at those games). 
     Our field hockey pride and joy lately, has been Katie Baker as she has played/captained the National Women’s Team until 2012.”
    She reassures that “Although our sport was on the down slide after 1999 and being dropped from Canada Games in 2009 (which PEI was hosting) we survived!  We survived because we had a small group of players and former players that were determined to be at the top once again.  One thing is for sure; we are growing and climbing up that curve!”

Field Hockey Canada media release