Coach Sue McRorie chases down Kaylee Sawchuk during a drill at at recent field hockey practice in Red Deer.

Playing to their strengths: attitude, talent, athleticism

Attitude is crucial in team sports, with talent and athleticism not far behind.

Attitude is crucial in team sports, with talent and athleticism not far behind.

Fortunately for the fledgling Red Deer under-14 girls field hockey team, all three attributes are in good supply.

The first-year squad practises weekly at Aspen Ridge and has already competed in two tournaments, with the third and final event of the season set for this weekend in Calgary.

Red Deer added a mix of players from the host community to the roster and took top honours in a tournament in Didsbury, then posted a 1-3 record while playing against older, more experienced competitors during a recent event in Edmonton.

“The Didsbury tournament was a nice success story. The girls got a trophy and some medals,” said Torsten Bechtolsheimer, who along with Heidi Olstad and Sue McRorie, coaches the team.

“The girls had a blast. We didn’t expect to win but they are skilled and very athletic. They have a fast pace and can utilize their speed to their advantage. It’s fun for them to do that.”

In Edmonton, the Red Deer girls played in an under-16 category.

“We wanted to face a better challenge and find out how the girls would perform on a higher level,” said Bechtolsheimer. “We lost three games and won one, which is not bad. But also all these Edmonton teams had provincial athletes … four to five players on each team were provincial athletes and prospects for the national team.

“They didn’t blow us away, it’s not like we lost 10-2. We lost by scores of 4-1 and 4-2. It was acceptable, those were not devastating losses for us.”

The Alberta Field Hockey Association was instrumental in the formation of the Red Deer team, Bechtolsheimer noted.

“Calgary and Edmonton have established field hockey teams and the (provincial) head office approached Red Deer in February, distributing flyers and brochures and posting them in multiple schools in Red Deer,” he said.

Bechtolsheimer, who played field hockey in Germany for 30 years, learned of the AFHA’s probe from his girlfriend, a school teacher, and contacted the provincial association about the possibility of setting up and coaching a team in Red Deer.

“They were very receptive. They said they need more coaches and we ended up with three coaches in total,” he said.

The next step was organizing open tryouts, which started in April.

“After two trials, we had eight players signed up for the team,” said Bechtolsheimer, noting that eight is the minimum number required to field a team.

What the squad is lacking in quantity, it makes up for in quality.

“Our girls play ringette or ice hockey in the winter season and they are very athletic, so they already had the right mindset and a certain skill set,” said Bechtolsheimer. “So for them it was an easy transition, I think.

“It all came about very quickly. The girls were receptive. They were eager to try the sport and they loved it.”

The fact the players have experienced a fair amount of success as a first-year team has helped keep interest at a high level.

“They showed in Edmonton that they can compete at a higher level and I think they will stick with it for sure because they can see that the hard work pays off,” said Bechtolsheimer. “They are just pumped up about field hockey, which is great for us as coaches. It makes our lives easier from a motivation aspect. The girls want to play and have fun.”

The plan for next season is to form two girls teams — at the under-12 and under-16 levels — along with an adult team.

“We didn’t have enough boys come to tryouts this year to form a team, but our long-term plan is to get a boys team,” said Bechtolsheimer.

“Then for adults, we could have maybe an under-40 team,” he said. “It’s all depending on the feedback. We have to spread the word and promote the sport, but a lot of our parents have indicated they would be willing and happy to try it.”

The Red Deer U-14 girls field hockey team roster: Jenna St. Pierre, Jordyn Burgar, Gracyn Hollman, Kaylee Sawchuk, Caleigh Meraw, Emma Meraw, Jade Bussard, Rachel Bahler.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month