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In April 2017, former University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey player Carmen (Kirkness) Asche passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Field Hockey alumni gathered together to drive the creation of an endowed award in her honour and on Feb. 24 first-year Vikes defender Anna Mollenhauer became the award’s inaugural recipient.

Kirkness was a two-time CIAU national champion with the then Vikettes field hockey program and her spirit touched many people throughout her 1986-90 career at UVic. Together with the help of the University of Victoria and the Kirkness family, the Vikes women’s field hockey alumni were able to drive the creation of the ‘Carmen Kirkness Award’ and raise over $38,000 that was then matched, to total over $80,000 by February 2018.

“Carmen was an extraordinarily hard working, loyal, humble and courageous player who always played the game with a tremendous amount of joy,” said head coach Lynne Beecroft about her former athlete. “After her playing days, Carmen stayed in touch with me. When I first reached out to our alumni to help in fundraising efforts for the Vikes Championship Breakfast, she didn’t just buy one seat ($200), she bought five ($1000) every year. She was an extremely talented field hockey player, but more importantly, she was a kind and generous human being!”

The alumni steering committee of Deb Whitten, Milena Gaiga and Kolette Cristante, all who played with Kirkness, along with Vikes coaching and support staff, were able to spark incredible fundraising efforts in a short amount of time. The newly-created endowed award will now annually offer support to current Vikes field hockey athletes who exemplify the qualities that Carmen possessed – courage, humility, heart, hard work and loyalty.

A special ceremony was held on Feb. 24 at UVic to present a $2,000 cheque to first year Anna Mollenhauer in Carmen’s name. Carmen’s parents Bill and Stephanie where there to help in the celebration and hear from Carmen’s former team mates – Whitten, Gaiga, Cristante, Cara Jay and Erin Biddlecome – who were all present for the ceremony.

“To perpetuate Carmen’s quality and memory in this wonderful manner is so heartwarming and meaningful to us,” said Stephanie Kirkness, Carmen’s mother. “Just to thank you seems inadequate but the perseverance and the energy put in to see this scholarship happen – we appreciate and thank you so much. We wish to also acknowledge all of the donors, who gave so generously to this scholarship and we are honestly overwhelmed with the final amount that was generated.”

“Those of you who knew Carmen would know and understand how humble she would be to have such an honour as this and we also feel this honour on her behalf.”

Mollenhauer completed her first U SPORTS season with the Vikes in November 2017 and was the team’s top goal scorer and named the Canada West Rookie of the Year. The Victoria defender and daughter of former UVic stand out and Olympian Nancy Mollenhauer, was a pivotal player on both the offensive and defensive penalty corner units. She is a regular and engaged coach in the community and an active member of the Canadian junior national development squad. Her talents on the field are well matched by her level of giving off the field and her selection as the first Carmen Kirkness Award recipient is nothing but fitting.

“While it was courageous for Carmen to move (from home) to the island to play for the Vikettes, it was the opposite for Anna,” highlighted coach Beecroft about similarities between Kirkness and Mollenhauer who played three decades a part. “Moving to Vancouver to play for UBC would have meant a greater chance to be seen by the national coach… Staying in Victoria, attending UVic, training with the Vikes and growing into a team leader has been courageous for Anna.”

“Anna is exceptionally hard working. There isn’t a practice, run or weight training session that Anna doesn’t finish red faced from all the effort she puts out. She wants to better herself as a player and knows that hard work is the easiest way to achieve that goal. Anna also plays with heart and joy… She laughs and she giggles and she just has fun. Over time I trust she too will give and give and give to her team mates and the next generation of Vikes.”

Individuals interested in further contributing to the Carmen Kirkness Award can do so at any time online at govikesgo.com/wfhaward or by contacting Matthuw Ronald-Jones, Vikes Development Officer, at mrj@uvic.ca. A link to a PDF of the donation form can be found here.