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Archive for January 23, 2023

Jan. 23, 2023 — An interesting (49th) parallel

This past week saw a changing of the guard in Canada that was just as significant as the retirement of North Carolina field hockey legend Karen Shelton.

The University of Victoria, located in British Columbia right on the water across the Haro Strait from the State of Washington, has been fortunate to have had a highly successful field hockey team that has won 15 Canada Interuniversity Sport national championships, including a win in a three-game series over York in November 2022.

The coach for the last 39 seasons at UVic has been Lynne Beecroft. Her coaching record with the Vikings was 340 wins, 98 defeats, and 89 draws. Some 40 players that have come through her team have gone on to represent Canada at the international level.

Beecroft’s final season was not only an undefeated one within Canada, but it was a season that began outside of it. The Vikings started the season with friendlies against Columbia, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. The tourists had a win and two draws against their Ivy League opposition.

“I didn’t get into coaching thinking about what my legacy would be. My hope is that the athletes I’ve coached have come away with, not only field hockey skills, but life skills, so that when they enter the ‘real’ world some of the lessons I’ve taught will resonate,” Beecroft said in a prepared statement. “Our athletes go on to be quite successful, and if they can take these lessons and apply them to their careers and even their relationships, that means more to me than anything else.”

Beecroft’s transition from international player to college coach occurred in an amazingly similar fashion. Beecroft amassed around 60 caps for the Red and White, including four World Cups and the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. It was around the time she was playing for Team Canada in Los Angeles that she got the inkling to coach at the University of Victoria.

The successes and attention to detail between the Victoria and North Carolina programs are much the same. These are teams that value the ball and take their chances. The only difference is that Victoria only has a seven-game regular season because of the number of Canadian universities that have dropped the sport in the last quarter-century.

That’s kind of a shame, given the fact that Canada has found a formula for success at the international level, being the current silver medalists from the Pan American Games.

Beecroft’s long-time assistant coach, Krista Thompson will take over this fall, and she will have a lot to live up to.