J. L. Crowe Hawks’ field-hockey forward, Camryn Haines, will play for Team BC U18 team in BC Field Hockey’s inaugural National Championship Festival in Surrey this week.  Submitted photo

J. L. Crowe Hawks’ field-hockey forward, Camryn Haines, will play for Team BC U18 team in BC Field Hockey’s inaugural National Championship Festival in Surrey this week. Submitted photo

J.L. Crowe field-hockey forward to play in Nationals

Fruitvale native Camryn Haines is set to play for Team BC in the National field hockey championship.

Her job is to score goals, and at only 15-years of age, Fruitvale’s Camryn Haines will realize her goal of playing for the U18 BC field-hockey team at the Canadian National Field Hockey Championship in Surrey, July 19-25.

Camryn, who is in just her second year playing field hockey, will hit the pitch at Tamanawis Park on Thursday for Field Hockey BC’s first National Championship Festival with 36 U15, U18, and U23 men’s and women’s teams from Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, and BC competing.

“I’m really excited,” said Camryn. “I never thought this would happen, especially this fast. I never thought I’d be playing for Team BC – in real life.”

The J. L. Crowe student comes by her skills honestly, having played ice hockey for many years. But field hockey is a very different sport, and, originally a left-handed shot, Camryn had to get accustomed to the right-handed field-hockey sticks. J. L. Crowe teacher and longtime field-hockey coach, Donna Hebert, was impressed with the young field-hockey phenom’s rapid improvement.

“It’s impressive on a couple levels,” said Hebert in an email. “First, Cam should only be playing at the U16 level but BC no longer has a U16 level therefore she is competing at U18. It is not that easy to break into the U18 level and she has at a young age.”

Camryn took up the sport in Grade 9 at the prompting of a friend and played for the Crowe Hawks field hockey team. At the suggestion of her coach, Camryn tried out for and made the regional team in Kelowna this past December, where she has worked out almost every weekend since.

She then attended a tournament in Vancouver in April where she was selected as an alternate for the provincial squad. Travelling back and forth to Vancouver every week for practices was a daunting task but with the unwavering support of her parents, Amy and Aaron, she committed to workout with the team in Vancouver.

“We talked about how great an experience it would be, regardless, so she made the decision to stick with it,” said Hebert.

Team BC put the players through a rigorous fitness test the first weekend, and Camryn, the alternate, came prepared and positive.

“We talked about getting her foot further in the door by showing the coaches how fit she is and how hard she can work,” said Hebert. “She killed the fitness testing that weekend and the following week she got an email saying that she had been selected as a full member of the squad. Somebody recognized her huge potential and were willing to take her on which was a great decision.”

As the youngest and least experienced player on the team, Camryn expected to see less action on the pitch, but at a recent tournament with Team BC, she was the lone goal scorer on the team, and enjoyed ample playing time. The experience helped her relax and brought her the confidence to play even better.

“I didn’t expect to get much playing time at all, but then we had our tournament and I did get played a lot,” said Camryn. “So after that tournament I feel better – I was really nervous before that.”

Many Greater Trail field-hockey players under Hebert’s tutelage have continued their pursuit of the sport in University and beyond. Most notably, Rossland’s Thea Culley attended and played for the University of Victoria and then went on to play over a decade for the Women’s National Field Hockey Team. Camryn says she would like to follow a similar path, but has a couple years to go at Crowe before she can score that goal.

According to coach Hebert, Camryn possesses huge potential, with a high game-IQ, natural ability, and a formidable work ethic, but perhaps more important, the young forward is well respected and well-liked by her teammates.

“She has the ability to learn very quickly, she is literally a better player every time she sets foot on the field,” said Hebert. “She is the player who stays after practice when everyone else has left to hit extra balls. She is a huge competitor on the field and embraces any role that is expected of her and leaves everything on the field; she is a lot like Thea Culley in that regard.”

Camryn is thrilled to be playing in the Nationals this week on the U18 Team BC Lions squad, one of three U18 BC women’s teams playing in the tournament. The skilled forward looks to make an impact at the event and leave an impression on her teammates, coaches, and university scouts – and set up her own goal of a bright future in field hockey.

“I’ve been learning a lot so far and it’s great for next year, all the skills that I’ve learned. Hopefully I make it again next year.”

Camryn and the Team BC Lions face off against Team Ontario Central in its first game at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday.