Visions of Olympic rings

Thea Culley, a high-end field hockey player has recorded a successful international experience with the Canadian National squad.

Jim Sinclair

Rossland News

A dramatic and exciting excursion has been completed by a dedicated and talented athlete with Rossland roots.

Thea Culley, a high-end field hockey player has recorded a successful international experience with the Canadian National squad.

In the eighth-seed at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Canada finished true to expectations, although turned in some inspired efforts along the way.

Field hockey could be compared to soccer in an important way as far as Canadians are concerned. We’ve got hardworking teams and committed players, but there is relatively little publicity for the sport in an environment where (ice) hockey is king. That being said, the motivation within the Canadian women’s field hockey program is as intense as it is anywhere.

Thea, in Vancouver and her mom Lisa in Rossland were both contacted on August 25, quizzed for comments about the games that both of Thea’s parents as well as her boyfriend Brendan were able to attend.

“It was very exciting to watch our team play with some of the top teams in the world,” said mom Lisa Henderson.

The highlight was a general one for Henderson: “…just being in the stands to support our daughter,” she said without hesitation. “Just being able to interact with her when the team would finish and acknowledge us. The Canadian team is always really good at that, coming over to the spectators’ side of the field and applauding us. Just knowing that she knew we were in the stands was a great feeling.”

According to Thea, who chose field hockey over basketball when she was in grade 10, the Commonweath Games’ high points, although not wins, came by way of strong showings against powerhouses India and South Africa, nations in which the game is hugely popular and well-supported. On that note, Thea informed that in terms of participation, for a team sport, field hockey is in the top three in the world, behind soccer and cricket.

“Canada doesn’t have the climate that supports it year-round,” she said.

Thea did not get through her Scotland assignment injury free, coming up with a bothersome condition after taking a hard shot on the kneecap during a practice before a game against New Zealand. It would not keep her out of the line-up, however. Culley, like all field hockey players is no stranger to “…bruises and turf burn and scars and mangled fingers…it’s a big joke right now, that I think I’ve had five or six fractures in my feet,” she said.

Thea, as a national team member is required to reside in Vancouver. When she was reached by phone she already had something big on her mind and in her plans, nothing short of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016. For her and her teammates, however, the road to Rio, if there is one, will need to go through Mexico.

“We leave September 4 and I believe the tournament is from the ninth to the 15th. It’s a world-league tournament, round one.” She explained that in round three, for teams that make it that far, there are a couple of tournaments.

“The top three or four teams from those tournaments qualify for the Olympics.”

The Canadian team will hopefully advance to round two, which Thea expects will be held in Uruguay.

Thea Culley was on pins and needles when phoned again on August 26, waiting for news on whether she had made the team.