A Rossland field-hockey player helped her university team to their best ever finish at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) national championships last week.
Former RSS Royal, Sam Spearn and the University of Calgary Dinos women’s field hockey team won silver after bowing to 13-time national champion, University of British Columbia.
“It was very, very sweet especially being only my first year on the team,” said Spearn from Calgary, Monday.
The Dinos fell 3-1 to the Thunderbirds in a tight final game.
“It was very close for most of the game, tied 1-1 until the end, then we had a bit of a downfall and they scored two goals on us . . . It was a disappointment but it was a huge achievement for our team just to make it to the finals,” added Spearn.
In round-robin play the Dinos shocked number-one ranked University of Toronto 3-0 and then beat University of Alberta by the same score to earn a spot in the final.
It was a bittersweet ending to a spectacular year for the host Dinos, who welcomed the tournament to Calgary for the first time since 1994 and made their first appearance since 1997.
A second-place finish in Canada West and the silver medal at the CIS championship were both best-ever finishes for the Dinos.
“It’s overwhelming, actually,” said Swagar in a release. “I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish this season. Hopefully with the plan and foundation we have in place, it will be easier to get back to this level.”
Spearn grew up in Rossland, began playing field hockey in Grade 7 and made the Rossland Secondary senior girls team in Grade 9. She played an integral part as captain for the RSS Royals bronze medal winning team at the provincials last season.
“She was a really hard worker, and I’m sure that’s why she made the U of C team and is why she is the only rookie,” said RSS coach Donna Hebert. “She’s definitely willing to put whatever it takes into the sport to be successful at it.”
As a first year player, Spearn received ample pitch time, starting at right midfield in the critical round-robin match up against U of T.
“It was the first time we’ve ever played them so we didn’t know what to expect,” said Spearn. “We just went out as hard as we could and came out on top.”
Coach Hebert was a driving force behind Spearn’s decision to pursue athletics at university.
“It speaks a lot about the kids coming from our area, having way less experience and exposure, and to still compete at that high level shows a lot of character from our kids from Rossland,” said Hebert.
Having positive role models has also motivated the 18-year-old.
“Thea Culley, she is a huge inspiration for me . . . She’s a definite role model, not only for me but I think for a lot of kids who play field hockey in our community,” said Spearn.
The RSS grad is pursuing a Commerce degree and has four years eligibility left with the Dinos. She hopes to take another shot at the national championship – and perhaps even shoot for loftier goals.
“If I ever get asked to play nationally, I definitely will take that path – for sure – I would love to follow in Thea’s footsteps.”