Field hockey nationals start Wednesday at UVic

Field hockey nationals spot lights Oak Bay teen

High schooler Maddie Secco performs a drill during national team training. The Oak Bay High student will play for Canada's junior squad in the Senior National Field Hockey tournament at UVic this week.

Oak Bay High student Maddie Secco will be taking full advantage of playing at home at the national field hockey championships starting today at the University of Victoria.

Secco will play for the junior national team, one of 10 women’s teams in the tournament.

It’s full circle for Secco, who will play against a number of local seniors including Ali Lee, the St. Margaret’s grad who won the CIS championship with UVic in 2009.

“It’s a funny story,” Secco said. “Lee coached me on the B.C. Summer Games team in 2008, and now when I train with the (senior team) we get to play together.”

Their link goes back even further. Secco’s mom Debbie, a teacher and coach at St. Margaret’s, introduced Lee to field hockey.

And though Secco only turns 17 this year it’s already her second nationals. She played with the 18-and-under B.C. team at last year’s tournament, also held at UVic.

The advantage of playing at home isn’t lost on Secco, who helped Canada’s U17 team win the Pan American Championship in November 2010.

“When you’re on the road you can always call home, but it’s nice to have the support of friends and family on the sidelines cheering for you.”

Carded and training with the senior national team since November of 2010, Secco has all but given up on other sports, though she’ll likely return to the Oak Bay Breakers soccer team next spring.

“It’s pretty much all the best players in Canada so it’s really fun to measure yourself,” said Secco. “I haven’t been able to do a lot with the senior national team because of (commitments) with the junior team.”

Secco isn’t the only youth field hockey prodigy coming out of Oak Bay High. The school’s recently named female-athlete-of-the-year, Kathleen Leahy, is set to play for the Vikes in September. Unfortunately, an injury will keep Leahy on the sidelines this week.

B.C. led schedule

The four B.C. teams are in a 10-team women’s division made up of  B.C. Blue, B.C. White, B.C. U18 White, B.C. U18 Blue, Alberta, P.E.I., Ontario White, Ontario Red and the junior national squad.

The men’s division has two B.C. teams, Blue and White, against the junior nationals, Alberta and Ontario.

All eyes are on the national team players as women’s coach Louis Mendonca is looking to select the Canada team that will play in the Pan American Games, this October in Mexico.

For Secco, the more realistic option is to crack the Canada ‘A’ development side, a mix of junior and senior players, that will host the 4-Nations Classic in Vancouver against Chile, Japan, and Trinidad & Tobago in July.

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