Rossland native Thea Culley will once again lead the national field hockey team as Canada’s Women’s National Field Hockey Program named its team and development squad rosters for the upcoming 2016 competition period.
Culley and 11 other athletes named to the Women’s National Team competed at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto where the Canadian women won bronze this past summer. It was the first medal for the women’s field hockey team at a Pan Am Games since 1999.
The team was brought back together last week in Vancouver for its year-end camp, where coaches assess and analyze the team’s performance and players’ fitness.
“The girls have actually finished the year fitter than they started and they already started the year fitter than they’ve ever been,” says Women’s National Program director and head coach Ian Rutledge. “Every time we’re back together, the girls are recording great scores.”
But the Games are nearly five years away and it would be easy for athletes to lose motivation, especially after a year that carried so much emotion every step of the way. But for Canadian Women’s National Team, evidenced by what transpired over the last few days in Vancouver, a lack of motivation is not an issue.
“We’ve had personal bests at this camp, the level of hockey in the scrimmages was the best I’ve ever seen at a carding camp,” says veteran forward Culley. “We’ve got the right mentality that’s going to continue to propel us forward.”
Along with Culley, who leads the team with 142 caps (International games played), returning veterans include Ontario product Kate Gillis, 139, and Danielle Hennig, 103, and Abigail Raye, 139, from Kelowna, who combine for more than 500 senior international matches played for Canada.
Also named to the national team roster is 21 year-old forward Hannah Haughn, who is two matches shy of 100 in her senior career and will become the youngest Women’s National Team athlete ever to reach the milestone. Stephanie Norlander, a 19 year-old forward from North Vancouver also makes the jump to the National Team from the Senior Development Squad and is the youngest member of the National Team.