FIELD HOCKEY: Local contingent part of national future; senior nationals coming to UVic

Local hockey contingent part of Jr. national squad

Grade 11 high schoolers Josh Turnbull and John Sharp make the weekly trip to Vancouver to train with Field Hockey Canada's junior national squad.

For many Grade 11 students, it’s about time to get a summer job.

For John Sharp and Josh Turnbull, field hockey has become just that. The two are part of a group of junior national team members ferrying to the mainland each weekly for training sessions.

Back in January, the two field hockey players cracked the national training squad and it’s been all hockey ever since.

Last weekend, Sharp a midfielder (Glenlyon Norfolk School), and Turnbull, a forward (Oak Bay High), were part of Victoria’s U18 boys’ team that came second in the provincials, held at the University of British Columbia.

Come July, they’ll play for Team B.C. at the U18 nationals in Calgary. In the meantime, they’ve bounced between youth and men’s leagues (mostly men’s), while maintaining and improving their fitness in accordance with Field Hockey Canada’s guidelines.

“It’s not as crazy as it seems. We work out but a lot of it is playing hockey and running,” Sharp said. “I didn’t expect to be training with the national team yet.

“The national junior roster was expanded in January (to about 30 players) for training purposes but it’s going to be reduced by about 10 in August so we have to do our best to make the cuts.”

Right now Victoria is likely better known in elite field hockey circles because of the quality of its girls. University of Victoria grads Andrea and Katie Rushton, and Ali Lee all suit up for Team Canada while Oak Bay’s Kathleen Leahy (committed to UVic Vikes) and Lambrick Park’s Kyla Kirby (Vikes) are next in line, among others.

Sharp and Turnbull, however, are from a core group of junior boys hoping to one day populate the men’s national team.

Other than Claremont and UVic player Kevin Laidman, Canada’s senior roster is void of Victoria blood. That’s bound to change.

Claremont phenom Josh Brown (Grade 10), Mt. Doug’s Arsh Buttar and UVic’s James Kirkpatrick will play for the national junior team at the UVic-hosted senior nationals, June 29 to July 3.

Turnbull and Sharp didn’t crack that team but aren’t worried. Same goes for UVic Vike David Bell and Grade 10 Amardeep Sidhu at Mt. Douglas.

“It’s still early for us,” Turnbull said. “Right now I’m looking at playing in the 2013 (U21) junior world cup (in India) and at university.”

Ideally, both players would play for the University of British Columbia.”

For Turnbull, it would mean following in the footsteps of his uncle, Mike Gunning, a former national team member.

In the meantime, those August roster cuts loom and there’s plenty of work to do.

Field hockey nationals return to University of Victoria

The nation’s top field hockey tournament is coming to the University of Victoria for the second straight year.

From June 29 to July 3, UVic hosts the senior national championships – the sport’s largest annual domestic tourney.

Field Hockey Canada anticipates eight women’s teams and five men’s teams. Last year, B.C. swept the gold medal in both the men’s and women’s divisions. But this year, competition will prove to be tough with the presence of the junior national teams.

The respective men’s and women’s national team coaches, Louis Mendonca and Robin D’Abreo, will be looking to fill spots for October’s Pan American Games in Mexico – Canada’s next qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics.


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