Perfect season for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team

Cowichan Secondary School’s junior field hockey team had an undefeated season, culminating with the Island championships in Victoria last week. (Todd Blumel photo)Cowichan Secondary School’s junior field hockey team had an undefeated season, culminating with the Island championships in Victoria last week. (Todd Blumel photo)
Breanne Smith plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)Breanne Smith plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)
Emily Clark plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)Emily Clark plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)
Erica Bogunya plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)Erica Bogunya plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)
Kennedy Wipplinger plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)Kennedy Wipplinger plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)
Devery Luxmoore plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)Devery Luxmoore plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)
Annette Blumel plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)Annette Blumel plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)
Barleen Sahota plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)Barleen Sahota plays for Cowichan Secondary’s junior field hockey team in the Island championships at UVic last week. (Todd Blumel)

Cowichan Secondary School’s junior field hockey team came into the season with a ton of experience, so the challenge for Alex Malvena — if you can call it a challenge — was to get them playing as a team.

“Most of them have been playing since they could have sticks in their hands,” said Malvena, who, along with Julie Martin coached the team to the Island championship this fall.

The least experienced player on the team, Malvena said, has been playing field hockey for six years, while the rest had upwards of 10 years of experience.

“The girls are amazing,” Malvena commented. “They make coaching easy.”

The junior Thunderbirds were already outperforming their opponents at their first tournament, the Friendship Cup in September, which they swept. Although the other teams improved their skills over the course of the season, the T-Birds gelled and were able to add teamwork to their established talents.

“By the last tournament they played as a unit, which was fabulous to watch,” Malvena said. “Any challenge that came forward, it was unreal how they overcame it.”

Between the Friendship Cup, John Ferreira Memorial Tournament and league play, the T-Birds had a perfect record going into the Island championships at UVic last week. They kept that momentum going at Islands, going unbeaten through four pool games, then crossing over to beat Oak Bay in the final.

“They played very well,” Malvena enthused. “It was one of their strongest games all season. Their drive was unreal.”

The biggest obstacle for the T-Birds at Islands was the playing surface. The team was used to playing on water-based fields like their home turf at the Cowichan Sportsplex, but they played on a rubber-based field at UVic, which makes for a slower game. As with other challenges over the season, the T-Birds faced it head-on.

“With teamwork, they were able to overcome it,” Malvena said.

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