In the lead up to the Canadian Women hosting World League Round 2, we had a chat with Alison Lee, on achieving her first outdoor international cap and what it takes to play on the national team.
FHO - What first got you playing field hockey?
A.L - I first started playing field hockey in grade 9 in high school. At my high school we were only allowed to play one sport per season and the only other sport that year at my school, other than field hockey, was cross country (and I wasn't really the cross country type of person), so I decided to play field hockey, with a little push from the two coaches. I figured it would be a good cross between soccer and ice hockey (sports I already played) and was up for something new! Fun fact, the first time I ever played field hockey we played with lacrosse balls. When I was in grade 9 it was the first time my school had a field hockey team so we didn't have all the right equipment! Outside of high school, I played one year of Halton house league the summer after grade 10 (and was on the same team as my U of T teammate Emma Wingrave), and the next spring (2011) I started playing with A & C Field Hockey Academy.
FHO - You've just finished a tremendous university career at U of T, earning All-Canadian twice, OUA All-Star 4 times, CIS Tournament 11 three times, OUA Gail Wilson Award Winner, 4 OUA Golds, 2 CIS Silver, 1 CIS Bronze. in your four team career. Can you share with us a highlight of your university career?
A.L - The highlight of my university career was the OUA Final game against Guelph in my fourth year (2015). We were down 3-0 15 minutes into the game but we never gave up, we ended up coming back to win 4-3 in the second half. Fifteen minutes into the game it looked like it was all over but it was a full team effort to get back into that game and to win it. It was one of the most exciting games I've ever played in just because the whole team rallied together and there was a never quit attitude, it probably also helped that Amanda Woodcroft's game-winning goal was beautiful! It was exciting because it was a gold medal game, and also because of the come back we were able to make!
FHO - What made you decide to set yourself the goal of playing for Canada?
A.L - Growing up I always wanted to play for Canada. I grew up playing ice hockey and my idol was Vicky Sunohara, who played for the Canadian National Women's Ice Hockey team. In Canada, kids grow up playing and watching ice hockey so playing field hockey never crossed my mind until high school. When I started playing field hockey I had absolutely no idea what it was. Playing for Canada was always a dream of mine, the sport that I saw myself representing Canada in just changed over time. Once I started playing field hockey with A & C Field Hockey Academy and started seeing the progressions that I was making in the sport, playing for that national team started to cross my mind. As I continued playing in University I began seeing the possibility of playing for Canada more as a reality and less of a far off dream. Once I saw that playing for Canada could be a reality I pushed really hard and trained really hard to get to where I am now and once I knew that I had the potential to play for Canada, I wasn't going to let anything stop me!
FHO - You played with the Canadian Indoor Women in the Indoor World Cup in 2015. What would you say is the biggest distinction between university level hockey and international hockey?
A.L - I think the biggest distinction between university hockey and international hockey is the speed of play and the technical skills of the athletes. Because their technical skills are so good they are able to play at a faster speed.
FHO - After many years of competing for U of T, Ontario and on the Indoor Canadian team, you just played your first outdoor international cap. What were you thinking about in the days leading up to this achievement?
A.L - Leading up to my first cap I was really excited. Playing my first cap with the outdoor team was a long time coming and I think I was really excited to finally get the chance to. I tried not to let my nerves get in the way too much and enjoyed the moment. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on the time before the tournament/series on how I got to where I am today, the people who helped me get here, every coach and teammate I've had over the years has had an impact on how I got here. I let me remember where I started and how far I've come. I think it's important to soak in the moment and the times you are playing for Canada but it is also important to remember how you got there and all the work you've put in on the way and all the work your teammates and coaches have put on you to get you where you are.
FHO - What words of advice would you give to young girls in Ontario who have a dream to play on the Canadian team?
A.L - My advice for girls who want to play for Canada one day is to work as hard as you can! The saying "nothing worth it comes easy" always comes to mind and it is especially true in this case. All over the country there are girls working hard who want to play for Canada one day, some people make more sacrifices than others and you just have to hope that you put more work in than the other girls. Once you get there and meet your goal and look back at everything you have done to get there, everything seems like a small sacrifice for your one goal.
Congratulations Alison on your first outdoor cap, and good luck in World League Round 2!
You can follow Alison and the other 7 Ontario women playing on the Canadian National team at World League Round 2 here