By Keaton Hills
After a month of travelling from Ottawa to Toronto for training every weekend, Nepean Nighthawks and Outaouais field hockey club player Reegan Woods’ commitment paid off with a silver medal from the recent Canadian under-18 field hockey championships.
Though she did not achieve her ultimate goal of winning gold with Team Ontario at the July 25-30 competition in Brampton, taking silver with a hard-fought 3-2 defeat to B.C. in the gold medal match remained a big achievement considering how little time her team had to build chemistry, signalled Woods, whose team won matches over New Brunswick, a second B.C. team, PEI and Alberta to reach the final.
Woods earned her spot on Team Ontario after performing well in fitness testing, skills testing and scrimmages during springtime tryouts in Toronto and Kingston, but the final squad had just a short month-long period to prepare. Training sessions were held on weekends only so people outside of Toronto could travel to them.
“We had to get to know each other and play and learn how to play with each other in such a short amount of time to go to a championship,” highlighted Woods. “It was a bit of a struggle playing against teams that had been playing together for longer, but we really pushed hard to fight to the end of every game and every whistle.”
The team did manage to bond with each other quickly since field hockey has such a niche community in Ontario, she added.
“Having that first initial connection with the fact that we play field hockey and not a lot of people do, I think it really brings you together,” the 17-year-old explained. “One of my closest friends is actually someone who isn’t even from Ottawa. I don’t think I could have gotten that with anyone else without connecting through this sport.
“And another thing that really helps is that we have been trained for multiple years with similar coaches with similar mindsets.”
Having to travel to get the high performance training she requires to excel is a bit of a downside, said Woods. It can be especially challenging to balance field hockey with school.
“It’s really difficult, but I’ve worked a lot with my parents, and they are super supportive, and I love the effort that they’ve put in as my parents to help me to achieve these things that I want to do,” underlined the St. Mother Teresa Catholic High School student who will soon begin her Grade 12 year.
“With their support, with my teachers’ support, with coaches’ support, just everyone has really helped me to get through the different difficult times of the travel and training I have to do, and there have been a lot of fun times and positive outcomes that came from it.”
Before getting into field hockey, Woods was an ice hockey player. In 2018, Woods and five of her Nepean Wildcats teammates were looking for a new sport to try out during the summer after their ice hockey season ended. One of them knew another Nepean Nighthawk who encouraged them to try field hockey and after that, they never stopped.
Woods also began training with Outaouais on top of Nepean since they had more players in her age group following COVID. She won national silver with Team Ontario at the U16 level last summer as well.
“I fell in love with the community and the people and just everything about (field hockey),” recounted Woods, who now aspires to play university field hockey in a year’s time.
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