The University of Victoria is currently home to a 11-day training camp for the Canadian Junior National women’s field hockey program. Second-year Vike Lindsay Cole and soon-to-be rookie Vike Alexis De Armond are both kitting up in the red and white this week to not only live in UVic dorms but to also experience a fully centralized, national team experience.
The camp runs from Aug. 10-21 and includes a series of games, fitness testing, position-specific training, team activity and excursions such as whale watching through the connection of former Vike Sarah Angus and Prince of Wales Whale Watching. Over 40 athletes were invited, however just 32 athletes are in attendance. The UVic campus will be home to lots of competitive hockey this year as the Vikes are also hosting the CIS women’s field hockey national championship, Nov. 5-8.
“The camp is a selection opportunity for our Junior World Cup qualifying squad,” said Steph Andrews, head coach of the junior women’s program. “We are going to Chile in January for a three-week training camp and the qualifier is in March. After Chile we will bring it down to 18 players so, it’s a really good development opportunity for the young ones.”
Mount Douglas Secondary grads Cole and De Armond are joined by a slew of island youngsters who have university hockey on their minds in the near future including Cowichan Secondary Shool’s Robin Fleming, Sara Goodman and Brittany Smith, as well as St. Michael’s University School’s Anna Mollenhauer, daughter of former Vike and Olympian Nancy Mollenhauer.
“You can’t beat having girls centralized for a good period of time and staying together from a culture point of view and for the girls getting to know each other,” adds Andrews. “The facilities have been unreal and UVic has been really accommodating. It’s really important to get around the country to our big pockets to coordinate and develop professional development opportunities for coaches in that area and bring people out to watch and advertise our program in different areas not just in Vancouver.”
The remainder of the camp includes games Aug. 18 (1:00 p.m.) and Aug. 21 (7:00 am), as well as some final team meetings and training sessions before athletes depart Friday morning.
“Exciting,” was all rookie De Armond could say about the potential to represent Canada. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play for Canada so hopefully it will come true. It’s a longer camp than we are used to but it’s fun because there are a lot of games and lots of room for improvement.”
The Vikes will look to continue to build off their 2015 CIS bronze medal win in Toronto and with Cole and De Armond now tasting the national team water The team should also benefit from the return of current senior national team members Rosie Beale, of Claremont Secondary, and Kathleen Leahy, of Oak Bay High.
To add to the mix, former Vikes goalkeeper and current senior national team keeper Kaitlyn Williams was on site to work with the junior keepers.
“It’s awesome to have this camp here and the facilities at UVic have always been good so it’s so nice to be able to spread (the normally Vancouver-based program) out,” adds Williams, a former Canada West Goalkeeper of the Year and 2008 CIS national champion. “I remember when we hosted CIS nationals (at UVic) and it was so exciting to have so much home town support and to host the games on your own field is unbelievable. I’m sure the girls will experience the same kind of excitement.”
The junior national team members will be on site at the University of Victoria water-based pitch from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Aug. 18, 9:00-11:00 a.m. and 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Aug. 20 and 7:00-9:00 a.m. on Aug. 21.